Sydney, Australia, Dec 7 (EFE).- Australia and Papua New Guinea signed a security agreement on Thursday that includes financial aid to modernize the police forces of the South Pacific nation and comes amid concern over the growing influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region.
The agreement provides a binding legal framework to deepen cooperation ties in defense, policing, border control and maritime security, as well as the protection of critical infrastructure, the strengthening of cybersecurity, and the fight against climate change and gender-based violence, according to an official statement.
“It will make it easier for Australia to help PNG address its internal security needs and for Australia and Papua New Guinea to support each other’s security in the region for stability,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at a press conference in Canberra alongside his Papuan counterpart, James Marape.
Along with the agreement, Canberra announced that it will provide some AU$200 million (about $130 million) “in support of Papua New Guinea’s national security priorities,” the statement added.
The Australian aid will contribute to improve police infrastructure, as well as modernizing its correctional services and fighting against gender violence, one of the biggest problems in Papua New Guinea, considered one of the most dangerous and violent nations in the world for women and girls.
In addition, Canberra will also help Papua New Guinea to establish a Police Recruit and Investigations Training Centre in Port Moresby, which Papua has offered to open up to other forces in the Pacific.
Papua New Guinea, a nation of 12 million people that gained independence from Australia in 1975, is seeking to increase its police force from 6,000 to 26,000 to maintain order in the country, where issues include tribal clashes and drug trafficking.
Australia sought to conclude a broader security and defense agreement, but various political and civil sectors voiced concern regarding the integrity of the sovereignty of this Oceanian country.
The United States and Australia have redoubled their courtship of Pacific island nations in the overlooked region in recent months after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April 2022, which includes the dispatch of security forces at Honiara’s request. EFE