PNG PM welcomes choice of oil exec as US Secretary of State

2:47 pm on 15 December 2016

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, has welcomed the nomination of the head of ExxonMobil to be the new US Secretary of State.

Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson Photo: AFP

As Chairman and CEO of the world's biggest energy company, Rex Tillerson has a special interest in PNG where Exxon operates the landmark Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project.

Mr Tillerson has been selected by the US President-elect Donald Trump to be the top US diplomat once his administration takes over next month.

Mr O'Neill said he was delighted that PNG would have a "very good and genuine friend" in one of the most important offices in the US government.

He said Mr Tillerson had a genuine interest in the economic development of PNG where he had been heavily involved in development of the LNG project.

LNG Project facility, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea

LNG Project facility, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Mr Tillerson travelled to PNG last year when he visited some of Exxon's operations in the country where it employs over 2000 people, mostly locals.

The PNG prime minister said that he was impressed with the oil executive's understanding of PNG's potential.

"He has a clear appreciation of our oil and gas sector, and his confidence in it the expansion of this sector," said Mr O'Neill.

"I am sure we will also continue and expand our wide ranging engagement with the United States in areas such as border security, fighting terrorism, managing climate change and trade development."

Mr Tillerson is likely to be amongst the fray in Port Moresby in 2018 when PNG hosts the APEC leaders summit.

Meanwhile, Mr O'Neill has thanked the US military for its ongoing support for the hosting of APEC in 2018.

Meeting this week with the Commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral Harry Harris, in Port Moresby, Mr O'Neill said APEC security was a joint operation.

He said cooperation was taking place with partners such as the US, Australia and New Zealand, to ensure the highest level of security for the event.

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