27 Oct 2006

PNG bans official travel to Australia

4:23 pm on 27 October 2006

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, has put a travel ban on all senior government staff planning to visit Australia.

The newspaper, The National, says Sir Michael, who arrived home from the Forum meeting in Fiji yesterday, said he had ordered that that no senior civil servants travel to Australia until a dialogue and rapport is re-established with Canberra.

It follows Australia suspending ministerial contacts between the two countries.

The Prime minister had already announced he would be recalling his high commissioner to Canberra, Charles Lepani, unless Australia changed its attitude.

Sir Michael says the ban on ministerial contacts is unfortunate because these meetings provide avenues to discuss problems in the relationship with a view to resolving them.