PNG welcomes increased engagement with France

9:28 am on 16 September 2016

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has welcomed increased linkage between PNG and France that he said is delivering results for business and increasing cultural exchange.

Papua New Guinea's  Prime Minister Peter O'Neill meets French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, in her parliamentary responsibility representing French Citizens Living Overseas.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill meets French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, in her parliamentary responsibility representing French Citizens Living Overseas. Photo: PMO media

Mr O'Neill made the comments following a meeting with French Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam, in her parliamentary responsibility representing French Citizens Living Overseas, in Port Moresby.

Senator Garriaud-Maylam also conveyed gratitude from Paris for PNG's support for global action on climate change at the Paris conference last December.

It's another sign of France's surge of engagement with the Pacific region, with two French Pacific territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia being granted full membership at the Pacific Forum last week.

"Papua New Guinea was fully supportive of the inclusion of two territories as members," Mr O'Neill explained.

"Collectively they have a population of over half a million people and make an important contribution Pacific affairs, and can now engage more deeply through the Forum.

"This is evident in areas where we have shared interests including tourism promotion."

He said the two countries share similar positions on a number of issues such as reducing global carbon emissions and efforts to deal with Illegal and unregulated fishing in Pacific waters.

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill (centre) with French officials, including Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam (second from right)

PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill (centre) with French officials, including Senator Joelle Garriaud-Maylam (second from right) Photo: PMO media

Mr O'Neill travelled to Paris earlier this year where he met with President Francois Hollande who said the relationship between the two countries had reached a new high.

The PNG government sees France and the broader European Union as increasingly important trading partners for PNG and the Pacific.

According to Mr O'Neill, the number of French Citizens living in his country continues to increase, particularly with French energy company TOTAL's emergence as operator of a major new fledgling LNG project in PNG.

"We welcome all French nationals who will come to Papua New Guinea to work or as tourists."