Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape defended in Parliament last week that the PNG and the U.S. Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) will help develop and maintain several agreed facilities in Port Moresby, Lae and Manus.
These would include Nadzab Airport (Lae), Lae Sea Port, Lombrum Naval Base, Momote Airport, Port Moresby Jackson’s International Airport and Port Moresby Sea Port.
Marape said that the agreement will allow unimpeded access for both parties to engage into mutually agreed activities in these facilities including surveillance, reconnaissance activities, bunkering of vessels and the staging and deploying of forces.
He stressed that it was a 15-year agreement that could be re-looked after time lapsed. He added that it was also one that sought to provide the legal framework to enable the conduct of these activities within the confines of PNG law, particularly the constitution and the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1975 (DVFA) (Section 206 of the National Constitution).
Under the agreement released in Parliament last week by Prime Minister Marape when he tabled it, the documents detail among others:
– The Defence Cooperation Agreement validates the presence of U.S. Forces (and other U.S. Officials in support of U.S. Forces) in PNG to conduct defence-related activities that would ordinarily be conducted under SOFA, such as training, humanitarian aid, security assistance and cooperation activities and joint and combined training activities, whilst also enabling the cooperation between the two Forces in areas of surveillance and reconnaissance activities.
-The Defence Cooperation Agreement seeks to enable the bunkering of U.S. Force vessels, maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircrafts; accommodation of personnel, communication, staging and deployment of forces and material, of equipment, supplies and material and other activities as mutually agreed.
– Both parties recognise that the presence of the U.S Force within the Territory of PNG is based on full respect for the laws of Papua New Guinea.
“It is important to note that the Defence Cooperation Agreement is a demonstration of the Parties intention to enhance levels of military cooperation. Certain core elements of the SOFA have been maintained which include; Uniforms and arms, property and ownership, security, importation and exportation, movement of aircraft, vessels and vehicles, and driving and professional licenses.