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Vanuatu's Foreign Minister lied over invitation claim: Oneill

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'neil: Image credit: PNG Perspectivee

Papua New Guinea's government has denied inviting Vanuatu's Foreign Minister to the country or the two people of Vietnamese origin who landed in Port Moresby on a mysterious plane last week.Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot's comment that he was invited by the PNG government is a "Blatant lie''.

Firmin Nanol reports:
Presenter: Firmin Nanol
Speaker:PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill

NANOL: PNG's Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary, Lucy Bogari told reporters last week, Mr Carlot was in PNG for official engagements with the new US Ambassador to PNG and Vanuatu, Walter North and not on a PNG government invitation.

She says two other persons of Vietnamese origins with Vanuatu diplomatic passports later arrived on an unauthorised flight in a private jet owned by the British International Jet Club, wanting to see Mr Carlot.

The United States Embassy in Port Moresby has confirmed that ''There was no such meeting between Ambassador North Mr Carlot."

The mysterious landing of the plane caught PNG customs and immigrations officials off guard.

PNG authorities questioned the crew and passengers of the plane, including the two Vietnamese brothers, Vu Anh Quan Saken and Henry Charles Saken, over any possible customs and immigrations breaches.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says internal investigations by PNG's customs and security officials have found nothing wrong with the plane nor the crew and its passengers.

He says the plane was allowed to take off to its final destination via Singapore.

O'NEILL: Our immigration and customs people carried out their normal responsibilities. Also on suspicion carried out a full check of the plane itself and the cargoes that it was carrying. There is no illegal substance or matter found on the plane. Passengers on the plane had legitimate passports from countries of which they were origin from. So as far as our government is concerned, also the police have carried out their own investigation on some of the allegations that our communities and our social media network has been highlighting and our Opposition has been highlighting. They have found no evidence that breaches any of our laws in our country. So we understand that the plane and the passengers departed our shores.

NANOL: Prime Minister O'Neill says claims by Vanuatu's Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot that he was invited by the PNG government are a lie.

O'NEILL: Well, I think that is a blatant lie. I have never invited anybody to be here, so if that is the sort of release that has been made, I can tell you that that is not true. So you can take it from me, there is no invitation. As a neighbouring country, of course passengers transit through either to go into Honiara or Port Vila or Suva, they use our air services and our facilities here, that' s normal routine, but I can assure you that there is no invitation from our government.

NANOL: Back in Vanuatu, Prime Minister Sato Kilman's office says his government was not aware of Alfred Carlot's visit to PNG.

He says the Vanuatu government was only aware of Alfred Carlot's visit to Abu Dhabi.

The mystery plane a Boeing 737 took off on an almost eleven hour-flight from Mali in West Africa to Gan Island on the Maldives and landed in Port Moresby last Thursday.

PNG's Opposition Leader Belden Namah told reporters he suspected something fishy was going on as he sighted senior government ministers meeting with Vanuatu's Foreign Minister, Alfred Carlot, at the Jacksons airport in Port Moresby.

He claimed PNG's Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato and State Enterprises Minister Ben Micah were seen in the company of Mr Carlot.

Mr Namah called for the sacking of the two ministers and an investigation for possible drug smuggling and money laundering by those onboard the mystery plane.

But PNG's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has denied any wrong doing by any of his ministers.

Mr O'Neill says Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato was returning on the same flight as the Vanuatu Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot was from Brisbane to Port Moresby whilst Ben Micah was at the airport leaving PNG for overseas engagements.

O'NEILL: I understand that one of the ministers was travelling out of the airport when the plane arrived which carried our Foreign Minister and the Foreign Minister for Vanuatu who were on, I understand on their way back from Dubai, on a meeting of the Non-Renewable Energy Meeting that we are a signatory to that Convention. So I cannot see the relationship when one of our ministers is on a plane, coming back to his own country. I don't see that as a crime.

NANOL: But its an irony that the ministers were on overseas trips after Prime Minister Peter O'Neill himself placed a moratorium on all ministers and government officials taking overseas trips. Radio Australia

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