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Papua New Guinea, Oz to sign security pact

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said Tuesday he will sign a bilateral security pact with Australia during a visit this week.

Marape said the agreement to be signed with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese on Thursday will involve Australian police officers working under the command of Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner David Manning.

“The security arrangement is in the best interest of Papua New Guinea and also for Australia and its regional security interests,” Marape said in a statement.

“Cabinet will fully endorse the finer details before Prime Minister Albanese and I sign off,” Marape added.

Albanese’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

A security treaty between Australia and its nearest neighbour, which is strategically crucial in the US partners’ battle against China for regional influence, had been expected to be signed in June.

But after a security agreement that Papua New Guinea signed with the United States sparked student protests in May in the South Pacific island nation’s second-largest city, Lae, Marape announced the Australian pact would be delayed.

Papua New Guinea’s deputy prime minister, John Rosso, told Australian Broadcasting Corp that the latest agreement would aim to build the capabilities of both the developing nation’s military and police.

In this image from a video, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, right, and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape shake hands outside the parliament in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on January 12. PHOTO: AP