29 Aug 2003

Australian envoy starts working to ease tension over PNG aid

3:30 pm on 29 August 2003

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare has received a letter from his Australian counterpart John Howard through his special envoy, Robert Cotton.

Mr Cotton is in PNG on a mission to help ease tension between his government and Papua New Guinea over Canberra's plans to review its aid package.

His visit comes amid discussions over how the 200 million US dollar aid is being delivered with both PNG and Australia endorsing a review on its impact.

The National newspaper reports that the contents of the letter are not known but it's understood a copy was forwarded to PNG's National Planning Minister Sinai Brown to prepare a response to be sent to Canberra.

Meanwhile, Mr Brown has released a statement reiterating his earlier position criticising what he called Australia's "bullying tactics" and "cheque book diplomacy" in PNG and the Pacific in general.