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Pato and Bishop reaffirm strong PNG-Australia ties

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Rimbink Pato has offered full co-operation to Australia in arranging a memorial to the sailors who perished in a submarine near New Britain in World War I.
In a cordial face-to-face meeting with his Australian counterpart, Minister Julie Bishop, on 1 February Mr Pato said Papua New Guinea fully respected the sacred nature of the last resting place of the young sailors, which was only recently discovered.
Australian, British and New Zealand sailors in the submarine were among the first casualties of World War I.
"We will listen carefully to how Australia and her allies want to commemorate the location of the ultimate sacrifice paid by their brave young men," Mr Pato said after the meeting.
"We are Australia's closest neighbour and it is a dear and generous friend of ours so we will be more than pleased to assist in any way we can," he said.
The offer, which was warmly accepted by Minister Bishop came at a meeting in Sydney which laid the foundations for a forthcoming formal bilateral meeting in Port Moresby and the subsequent meeting of Ministers from both countries in Brisbane.
Among the items covered in the Sydney meeting were extensive educational exchanges to be organised under the ‘New Colombo Plan’ in which young Australians will gain extensive experience in Papua New Guinea, with further
practical discussions to be had at the Ministerial Forum between Papua New Guinea and Australia’s Ministers during April in Brisbane, Queensland.
"Minister Bishop and I place great emphasis on people-to-people relationships both for the sake of the individuals involved and also to contribute to the ever-deepening and widening of the relationship between our two countries," Mr Pato said.
"In this respect we also spoke about other exchanges proposed in a new draft of a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding between the State of Queensland and Papua New Guinea.
"Among the other topics on the meeting with Minister Bishop were the close partnership of PNG and Australia in security and stability matters, and the successful outcome of the arrangement with the United States to accept asylum seekers from Manus Island, and how we can achieve other positive outcomes in this area."
Both Ministers acknowledged the importance of continuing work to ease travel facilitation for PNG citizens, for which it was noted that a bilateral Technical Working Group report is due to be handed down in time for the Ministerial Forum in April. Further review continues to be undertaken on seasonal worker, and holiday-maker visas.
Minister Pato expressed his gratitude to Australia for its contribution of funding and expertise for the APEC meeting in Port Moresby in November, and for its support for the work of PNG and like-minded countries to eliminate harmful subsidies to overseas fishing industries.
Mr Pato congratulated Australia welcoming the recent publication of the Foreign Policy White Paper and the attention it paid to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
Minister Bishop was advised that Papua New Guinea has undertaken a comprehensive review of its Foreign Policy and the PNG National Executive Council (Cabinet) has endorsed the Foreign Policy Review Report with a Foreign Policy White Paper to be developed, including the completion of a Foreign Service Handbook and the Diplomatic and Consular Services Manual.
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