13 Aug 2005

Australian foreign minister expected in PNG for police talks

8:17 am on 13 August 2005

The Papua New Guinea government expects Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to visit Port Moresby soon to resolve an impasse over Australia's stalled policing programme.

PNG's Foreign Minister Rabbie Namaliu says Mr Downer will be arriving some time after next week, but dates have yet to be confirmed.

A planned trip by PNG's Police Minister Bire Kimisopa, to Canberra to meet the Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been called off.

They'd been due to discuss the policing component of the Enhanced Cooperation Programme.

More than 100 Australian police were pulled out of Port Moresby and Bougainville in May after PNG's Supreme Court ruled that their agreed immunity from prosecution under PNG law was unconstitutional.

Sir Rabbie Namaliu says both governments want the programme to continue, but it couldn't be in the same form where it might end up in court again.

Sir Rabbie says PNG will ask for Australian police specialised in tackling corruption, in order to build up the capacity of the local force, in criminal investigations, in fraud and in anti-corruption.