Papua New Guinea personnel will travel aboard US Coast Guard ships in the Indo-Pacific, according to a new agreement between PNG and the US government.
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Once ratified by the PNG Parliament, both nations will operate the patrols to tackle illegal fishing and trafficking in the huge, exclusive economic zone from August this year.
The 15-year agreement was reached between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape earlier this week.
“We’re expanding US participation in several exercises with the PNG Defense Force,” Secretary Austin said, as the first US defense secretary to visit Papua New Guinea.
"We’ve also completed an important shiprider agreement that will mean greater cooperation on maritime law enforcement.
“We’re not wasting any time … A US Coast Guard cutter will be here in August to kick this program off.”
Both leaders also discussed humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, maritime domain awareness, combating climate change, and efforts to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region.
Prime Minister Marape said the US has never tampered with PNG’s autonomy and independence with respect to sovereignty.
“We invited them in the defence space; it is not them coming in,” he said.
“We invited them in the defence space to help build our defence to protect our own borders, including stopping fishing losses and blight of the illegal (logging) from our forests. They came in our invitation.”