Canberra abandons Bougainville mission plan

3:37 pm on 8 May 2016

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs has officially abandoned its plan to establish a diplomatic mission in Papua New Guinea's autonomous Bougainville region.

The department's secretary, Peter Varghese, conceded to a Senate hearing that the situation was not handled satisfactorily and officials had not consulted the PNG government before the announcement.

The region is due to hold a referendum on possible independence some time in the next few years, as part of a peace agreement signed after a bloody civil war in the 1990s.

In last year's budget, the foreign minister Julie Bishop revealed plans to establish a diplomatic post on the island, which surprised and angered the government in Port Moresby.

PNG responded by temporarily placing a ban on Australians travelling to the region and the then-Australian High Commissioner, Deborah Stokes, left her posting early with no explanation soon after.

Australia this year announced plans to open a mission in PNG's second city, Lae.

Arawa, Bougainville

Arawa, Bougainville Photo: RNZI

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