Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands commit to strengthening diplomatic relations

Sunday 4 January 2024

Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko and Solomon Islands High Commissioner to PNG, HE William Soaki.

Papua New Guinea is committed to working  with its closest Melanesian neighbour Solomon Islands, to move forward outstanding bilateral agreements, and to further strengthen diplomatic relations, Foreign Affairs Minister Hon. Justin Tkatchenko says.

Minister Tkatchenko made his remarks in his  recent meeting with  Solomon Islands High Commissioner  to PNG, H.E. William Soaki, when he paid   a courtesy call  to his office last Friday  2 February.

 Minister Tkatchenko also  congratulated Mr Soaki for his reinstatement, and committed to moving   outstanding bilateral agreements.

Minister Tkatchenko added that  PNG is mindful of its Pacific Island neighbour going to the polls in two months’ time, but that country  was committed to signing  the outstanding bilateral agreements by the end of February.

The agreements to be signed include the Basic Agreement between Governments on Border Arrangements; a Treaty of Sovereignty on Maritime and Seabed Boundaries; an Agreement between both Governments on the Administration of Special Areas; and a Memorandum Of Understanding on Combined Surveillance and Common Marine Border.

“We noticed that during your previous tenure in this role, we achieved a lot in the short period of time and we look forward to working with you to continue this relationship,” H.E Soaki expressed in the meeting

Discussions also included a brief on ongoing negotiations on an Air Services Agreement, where point of entry is under review considering the opening of major airports including Lae and Mt Hagen.

Tertiary Education Cooperation, another progressive MOU under revision and had taken two (2) years was also on the agenda.

Minister Tkatchenko assured the High Commissioner that the parties will work towards having this agreement signed by May after the new Solomon Islands government is formed.

Other MOU’s currently under review are the Bio-Security Customs, and Police Cooperation on general policing.

Terms for a cooperation agreement are also underway, in consultation with the Autonomous Bougainville Government for Bougainville Internal Waters, to regulate trading that has been a regular occurrence at the border with the region for years.

“It’s not going to be an easy journey and it will come down to the leadership and the way they agree and handle the situation,” Minister Tkatchenko said.

High Commissioner Soaki also noted the proposed formation of the Solomon Islands and PNG Business Council which was discussed at the last senior officials meeting.  

“We have a big number of Papua New Guinean investors in Solomon Islands and the establishment of a business council is being considered.”

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