Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rudd to visit PNG next week

From: AAP

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea next week.
His PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill announced the visit today.
Mr O'Neill noted in a statement that Mr Rudd had recently replaced Julia Gillard as prime minister.
"His visit to our country reinforces the very strong relationship PNG enjoys with Australia."
Speculation started last week that Mr Rudd would visit PNG after reclaiming the top job, however Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have remained mum about definite dates.
Mr Rudd is scheduled to visit PNG from July 14-15.
During his visit Mr Rudd will hold discussions with Mr O'Neill focusing on the Australian Aid Program, trade and investment.
Mr Rudd is also expected to meet other key PNG ministers.
He made PNG among his first visits during his first term as prime minister in 2007.
He also returned as foreign minister in 2012.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard made her first visit to PNG in May.
Mr Rudd confirmed his impending trip to PNG, which comes within a fortnight of his talks with other regional leaders including East Timorese President Taur Matan Ruak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"There are three big questions on the agenda with PNG on a bilateral level," Mr Rudd told the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday.
He plans to get a progress report on a major PNG liquefied natural gas project in which Australia has significant equity.
Mr Rudd also wants to help PNG combat high rates of street crime.
"If we can co-operate better with PNG to lift the levels of security on the streets of the bigger cities, I think that's going to help Australian investors, the Australian business community as well as the good people of PNG," he said.
Health care and hospital services will also be a focus during the visit.
Mr Rudd said there was an avenue for PNG to use Australian expertise to improve health care and distribution of medicines, which were currently "problematic".

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