2 Sep 2003

PNG pulls plug on Downer visit as aid spat continues

4:42 pm on 2 September 2003

A trip to Papua New Guinea by Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, has been delayed following a request from Port Moresby.

Mr Downer had planned to visit in just over a weeks' time to discuss a wholesale review of aid to PNG.

A special Australian envoy made a visit to Port Moresby last week to give the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, a broad outline of Australia's new aid conditions.

A statement from the Prime Minister's office, said PNG was concerned that most of the issues raised by the envoy were never discussed at the recently concluded High Level Consultation meeting in Cairns.

A spokesman says they asked for a delay in Mr Downer's visit until the departments involved identified the issues for discussion.

The spokesman said PNG was concerned that Australia was trying to force issues without following the official process of consultation