U.S ‘respects’ PNG’s nuclear stance

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The United States-Papua New Guinea Defence Cooperation Act (DCA) is built on mutual respect and we respect Papua New Guinea’s position on nuclear matters, says U.S defence secretary Lloyd Austin III.

Austin said: “Again, as you heard me say earlier, this is really about strengthening our ability to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific and protecting the rural space in our national border.

“And, you know, we will remain focused on that and we’ll continue to work with like-minded nations and nations who share our vision for that free and open Indo-Pacific. Again, I think the DCA reflects our shared values, and again, the relationship is really about those values.

“And so I think there are a lot of opportunities that are in front of us, and we’ll work on those opportunities.

“With respect to the PNG’s nuclear-free stance, I would tell you from the very outset that this relationship is built on mutual respect and we respect PNG’s position on nuclear matters and we look forward to continuing our work together in close consultation.”

Austin said in terms of any type of action by anyone against PNG, “our goal is to make sure that we strengthen PNG’s ability to defend itself and protect its interests”.

“And this is a relationship that’s built on respect and we look forward to some great work going forward here,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS