Papua New Guinea PM Marape says no talks with China on security

By Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said on Monday there had been no recent talks with China on security after the resource-rich nation signed a security agreement with neighbour Australia last week.

Marape said Papua New Guinea had been transparent, and when he visited Beijing this year with his ministers “there was no conversation on security”.

“We keep them in the space of the economy, we went with traditional security partners for security,” he told a resources investment conference in Sydney.

Papua New Guinea signed a defence agreement with the United States in May, and struck a security deal with Australia last week that Marape said was focused on internal security, including boosting police numbers and the judiciary.

“These two are complementary. External security with the USA, and internal security with Australia,” he said.

The resource rich but largely undeveloped nation north of Australia is seeking to boost foreign investment and trade to boost its economy, amid an increasing jostle for influence in the region between the United States and China, which signed a security pact with neighbouring Solomon Islands last year.

Marape said improving security was important for foreign investors.

Papua New Guinea’s exports are dominated by resources and energy, including liquefied natural gas.

Marape said he did not want to be lectured on climate change, and nations with the biggest carbon footprints and affluent lifestyles needed to take the lead in curbing emissions.

“My country is in the oil and gas business. Lucky for me we have the big forest and ocean to offset,” he said.

With 70% of Papua New Guinea forested, Marape said it was a “carbon negative” country and offered a green label to energy investors.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney; Editing by Jamie Freed and Lincoln Feast.)