Papua New Guinea won't be used for 'offensive military operations': PM
The PNG's PM says the country is not to be used as a place for launching offensive military operations.
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister James Marape said on Tuesday that his country will not be used as a base for "war to be launched" after the Pacific country signed on Monday a defense agreement with Washington, giving US forces access to its airfields and ports.
Marape claimed that the signed agreement, which would be released on Thursday, prohibited "offensive military operations."
"It’s not a military base to be set up here for war to be launched," the PM told radio station 100FM, pointing out that "there's a specific clause that says that this partnership is not a partnership for PNG to be used as a place for launching offensive military operations from Papua New Guinea," which sits near important sea lanes and international submarine cables linking the US and ally Australia.
Marape last week said the deal would offer Washington movement in the country's waters in return for access to US satellite surveillance to battle "illegal activities on the high sea."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a defense cooperation deal signed with PNG earlier that day would expand the PNG’s capabilities and make it easier for the US military to train with its forces.
The agreement has prompted student protests at several universities, PNG's biggest newspaper the Post Courier reported, over fears it gives US forces too much autonomy at some of the country's key entry points.
Marape indicated on Tuesday that the agreement was not a treaty and did not need to be ratified by the country's parliament.
With the signed agreement, the US and its allies are seeking to put pressure on Pacific island countries against developing ties with China, which has been a major infrastructure investor in PNG, after the latter signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands last year.
Last week, Marape said the agreement would not prevent him from signing similar deals with other nations, including China.
China on Friday said it opposes the "introduction of any geopolitical games into the Pacific Island country region," without specifically referring to the deal or Blinken's visit.
Marape pointed out that PNG’s military is the weakest in the region at a time of high tension but said the agreement would improve domestic security and encourage more foreign investors to set up in the country.
The Prime Minister said that "there will be substantial infrastructure investment" in airports, ports, roads, communications, and electricity as a result of the deal for the benefit of the public.
Elsewhere, he noted that subsidiary agreements that will determine how the US military and civilian contractors come into PNG were being worked out.
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