MR. CHAIRMAN,

YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESSES,

EXCELLENCIES,

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

MY DELEGATION WOULD LIKE TO JOIN THE PRECEDING DISTINGUISHED SPEAKERS IN EXTENDING PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S SINCERE CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR EXCELLENCY’S UNANIMOUS ELECTION AS CHAIRMAN OF THE 30TH ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEETING.

I ALSO WISH TO EXPRESS OUR APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE FOR THE EXCELLENT PREPARATIONS MADE BY THE MALAYSIAN GOVERNMENT FOR THIS IMPORTANT MEETING ON ASEAN’S ANNUAL AGENDA. I AM CONFIDENT THAT THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETINGS WILL BE COMMENSURATE WITH AND INDEED REFLECT THESE ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS. THIS FEELING OF A SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME IS FURTHER REINFORCED BY THE INCISIVE AND INSPIRING STATEMENTS OF THE MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER THIS MORNING.

THE GENEROUS HOSPITALITY ACCORDED TO MY DELEGATION IS VERY INDICATIVE OF THE CORDIAL AND MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES, AND FURTHER UNDER SCORES MALAYSIA’S FIRM COMMITMENT TO REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

AT THIS JUNCTURE I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO EXTEND, ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA, OUR MOST SINCERE AND HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENTS AND PEOPLES OF MYANMAR AND LAOS FOR THEIR ADMISSION YESTERDAY AS FULL MEMBERS OF THIS VIBRANT ORGANISATION. THEIR MEMBERSHIP WILL NO DOUBT FURTHER STRENGTHEN ASEAN’S ALREADY RECOGNISED IDENTITY AS A CONSTRUCTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

AS YOU ARE AWARE, PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS JUST COMPLETED ITS NATIONAL ELECTIONS AND ON TUESDAY 22 JULY 1997 THE NEW PARLIAMENT MET AND ELECTED PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S PRIME MINISTER, HON. BILL SKATE FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. AS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND, IT IS THEREFORE NOT POSSIBLE FOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA TO BE REPRESENTED AT THIS AUGUST MEETING BY ITS FOREIGN MINISTER. IN THIS REGARD, I AM INDEED HONOURED TO BE PRESENT HERE AS A SPECIAL ENVOY OF THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S ATTENDANCE AT THE 29TH ASEAN MEETING IN JAKARTA LAST YEAR MARKED THE TWENTIETH (20TH) ANNIVERSARY OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S ASSOCIATION WITH ASEAN. HAVING ATTANDED THE 1976 MEETING IN MANILA AS AN OFFICIAL OBSERVER.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA CONTINUES TO ACCORD GREAT IMPORTANCE TO ASEAN AS A PRAGMATIC PROGRESSIVE AND SUCCESSFUL REGIONAL ORGANISATION THAT PORTRAYS AN EFFECTIVE AND EQUALLY INNOVATIVE VOICE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS.

WE ALSO VALUE DEEPLY THE COOPERATIVE AND MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONS EXISTING BETWEEN PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND INDIVIDUAL MEMBER COUNTRIES OF ASEAN. INDEED, PAPUA NEW GUINEA BELIEVES FIRMLY THAT THERE IS MUCH TO BE GAINED FROM THE EXPERIENCES AND THE DYNAMIC ECONOMIC PROGRESS ACHIEVED BY THESE COUNTRIES WITHIN THE REGION AS EXEMPLIFIED BY OUR GROWING LINKS WITH THEM.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S TWO PRONGED FOREIGN POLICY STRATEGY OF “LOOKING NORTH AND WORKING THE PACIFIC” APPOPRIATELY ILLUSTRATES PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S UNIQUE GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION, WHICH CAN BE SEEN AS A BRIDGE LINKING THE SOUTH PACIFIC AND SOUTHEAST ASIA. IN THIS REGARD, MR. CHAIRMAN, THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT IS PLEASED TO NOTE AND WELCOME MALAYSIA’S PARTICIPATION AS A DIALOGUE PARTNER FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THIS YEAR’S SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM MEETING IN RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS. MALAYSIA’S POSITIVE INTERACTIONS WITH THE FORUM AND ITS MEMBER COUNTRIES CAN ONLY ENHANCE AND CONSOLIDATE LINKAGES BETWEEN ASEAN AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM.

AS A MEMBER OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM – THE PARAMOUNT REGIONAL ORGANISATION IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC, PAPUA NEW GUINEA WILL CONTINUE TO ENCOURAGE CLOSER INTERACTIONS AND INSTITUTIONAL LINKAGES BETWEEN THE ASEAN SECRETARIAT AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM SECRETARIAT.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA HAS BEEN HEARTENED BY THE SUPPORT AND OVERTURES FROM ASEAN ON OUR PROPOSALS TO ESTABLISH AN APEC CENTRE IN PORT MORESBY AS WELL AS A PROVISION WITHIN THIS FACILITY FOR A LOME TYPE ARRANGEMENT TO CATER FOR THE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE NON-APEC SOUTH PACIFIC ISLAND COUNTRIES.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

DURING THE 29TH ASEAN MINISTERIAL MEETING HELD IN JAKARTA LAST YEAR, PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S FOREIGN MINISTER, HON. KILROY GENIA EXPRESSED PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S DESIRE TO FURTHER STRENGTHEN ITS INTERACTIONS WITH ASEAN BY PROPOSING THAT PAPUA NEW GUINEA BE ACCORDED A PERMANENT ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP WITH ASEAN.

THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT HAS PREPARED A POSITION PAPER ON THE PROPOSAL FOR THE STATUS OF PERMANENT ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP FOR CONSIDERATION AND VIEWS OF ASEAN. DUE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS PROPOSAL, MR. CHAIRMAN, THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED THAT ITS NEW FOREIGN MINISTER WILL PRESENT IT AT THE 31ST ASEAN MINISTERIAL MEETING IN 1998.

IN THE MEANTIME, WE WILL BE UNDERTAKING CLOSE CONSULTATIONS WITH THE ASEAN MEMBER STATES AND THE SECRETARIAT IN JAKARTA TO ARRIVE AT MUTUAL AGREEMENT ON THE MODALITIES OF THE PROPOSAL.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

ONCE AGAIN, THE EXPANSION OF ASEAN’S MEMBERSHIP IS A VERY SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENT IN ASEAN’S HISTORY. AS IT WILL BROADEN THE SCOPE AND INTENSITY OF ASEAN COOPERATION AND STRENGTHEN ITS RESILIENCE AS AN ORGANISATION. FURTHERMORE, IT WILL PROMOTE ENDURING STABILITY AND GROWTH WITHIN THE REGION AS WE APPROACH THE TURN OF THE CENTURY.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, FOR ITS PART WILL CONTINUE TO PURSUE AS WELL AS EXPLORE COOPERATIVE INTERACTIONS WITH ASEAN AND ITS MEMBER COUNTRIES AS WE ADDRESS THE VARIOUS DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES OF OUR TIMES. LIKEWISE WE WILL EMBRACE ASEAN AS A PARTNER AND ITS APPROACHES AS WE ENDEAVOUR TO ENHANCE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR COUNTRY.

MR. CHAIRMAN,

I WISH TO CONCLUDE BY REITERATING PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S FIRM BELIEF AND COMMITMENT IN THE PRINCIPLES AND ASPIRATIONS OF ASEAN AND THE POSITIVE IMPACT ASEAN’S PROSPERITY AND RESILIENCE WILL HAVE IN THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION AND THE WORLD AT LARGE.

THANK YOU