by Fabian Hakalits – EM TV, Port Moresby
Australians are still banned from travelling to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB).
Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato told parliament yesterday that the ban will not be lifted before discussions for a solution are completed in the interest of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
The foreign affairs minister was responding to questions raised in parliament yesterday morning by Opposition Leader Don Polye, concerning the unnecessary, current misunderstanding that might affect Bougainvilleans’ welfare.
Bougainville’s issue is of paramount significance and the foreign affairs minister said the national government’s role is to ensure it protects its autonomous region. In the course of discussion, the ban is still effective.
“Bougainville’s issue is of concern and sensitive; [it] will need to be discussed in detail and carefully considered,” Pato said.
While Papua New Guinea respects the strong bilateral trade ties with Australia, Mr Pato said they must also comply with national laws. Minister Pato said discussions are ongoing between PNG and Australia to reach a consistent solution.