Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare has acknowledged the ongoing commitment by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to Solomon Islands which continues to strengthen and improve relations between two Melanesian brothers.
Mr Sogavare said this while welcoming Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Hon Rimbink Pato, who is on a two day visit to Solomon Islands.
The Foreign Affairs Minister’s visit is purposely to congratulate Prime Minister Hon Sogavare on behalf of Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neil and the government and people of Papua New Guinea on his successful election as Prime Minister, and to hold bilateral discussions on issues of mutual concerns.
Mr Sogavare said, the two countries have very close bilateral relations which over the years that have grown from strength to strength which have seen the two countries signing a number of agreements regarding border and development cooperation.
Mr Sogavare especially thanked the PNG Government for the sponsorship and training of over 200 of Solomon Islands students in 2015 in various tertiary institutions in Papua New Guinea under the PNG Government Scholarship Grant which began in 2014.
The four –year agreement will see more than 800 scholarships offered to Solomon Islands undergraduates to undergo training in Papua New Guinea institutions and colleges until the completion of programs in 2022.
Mr Sogavare also acknowledged the 5-year development assistance of K100 million (SB300) million of which payments of which a payment of K10 million was made in 2013 by Prime Minister Peter O’Neil and another K10 million made in 2014 by Hon Pato himself.
Mr Sogavare noted the issues regarding double taxation on investment and trade between the two countries and reaffirmed the DCC government’s commitment to conclude the negotiations and stressed the importance of having an agreed outcome of the agreements to be mutually beneficial for both countries.
The Prime Minister noted that there are more than 50 PNG companies registered in Solomon Islands and assured the Foreign Minister that Solomon Islands officials will meet their Paua New Guinea counter-parts soon to further progress on the negotiations.
He said, the two countries share a very close maritime borders and it is paramount for Solomon Islands to ensure its borders with PNG is secured while at the same time allow the traditional inhabitants along the border to enjoy the benefits under the Basic Border agreement on the border of both countries.
Mr Sogavare said the DCC government’s policy pertaining to border management is to strengthen border monitoring, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in all borders.
He added, Solomon Islands is looking forward to the 20th MSG Leaders Summit in Honiara in July and the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum in Port Moresby in September this year where both countries will further engage in the discussion of regional issues affecting both countries.
Foreign Minister Hon Pato earlier paid a courtesy call to his counter-part, Hon Milner Tozaka, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
Foreign Minister Hon Rimbink Pato will depart Solomon Islands today.