17 Feb 2003

High powered PNG Government delegation off to Bougainville

4:33 pm on 17 February 2003

The Papua New Guinea Minister for Inter Government Relations, Sir Peter Barter, says a visit to Bougainville this week by a high level Government delegation is an opportunity for Bougainvilleans to show their commitment to the peace process.

Sir Peter says the team of 12 Ministers is the most important delegation to visit the island in a long time.

It will also include the Chief Secretary, the Police Commissioner, the Defence Force Commander, and senior officials from other Government departments.

Sir Peter says the willingness of Ministers to set aside other pressing responsibilities shows just how strongly committed the Somare Government is to practical peace building in Bougainville.

He says all Government agencies want to play a full part in giving effect to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and in helping to restore services, repair and reconstruct infrastructure and create an environment for economic recovery.

While there the Ministers will sign an Memorandum of Understanding establishing the island's temporary joint supervisory body.

Sir Peter says this is the most significant step towards the establishment of an autonomous Bougainville Goverment since the National Parliament passed the new Constitutional arrangements last year.