History of Oceania as a whole|
Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 01:56:37 +0200
From: Norbert BRAumann <N.BRAumann@tu-bs.de>
Organization: Technical University Braunschweig (Germany)
To: Bougainville Info eXcerpts <N.BRAumann@tu-bs.de>
CC: "\"pac-list\" Pacific-Islands - List" <Pacific-Islands-L@coombs.anu.edu.au>
Subject: [BougI-xL PIR] US-Albright + PNG-Skate JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE (29.July)
[includes quite a few sections on Bougainville]
Joint Press Conference
By the Pacific Islands Development Program/Center for Pacific Islands Studies
29 July 1998
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Bill Skate
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
July 29, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
PRIME MINISTER SKATE: Madame Secretary, on behalf of the
Government and people of Papua New Guinea, I extend a warm
welcome to you on your stopover in Port Moresby today. And I
also appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and
exchange bilateral, multilateral issues, concerns and
interests to both our countries -- Papua New Guinea and the
United States of America.
I also appreciate your sensitivity and concern over staging
of welcome ceremony, especially at a time when Papua New
Guinea is grieving over the loss of human lives as a result
of tidal wave disaster. However, I wish to reiterate, that
such courtesy is consistent with Papua New Guinea customs
and traditions. And it is normally extended to very
important guests such as yourself.
In this regard, we are most grateful that you have decided
to stop over here in Port Moresby today, and we appreciate
your presence. At the outset, I take this opportunity to
convey our sincere gratitude of your government's
contribution of US$ 125,000 and other forms of support and
assistance towards the drought that severely affected
certain parts of Papua New Guinea. The (inaudible) chemical
disaster in 1994 as well as the recent tidal wave disaster
in Aitape. I also thank you and your government for your
support towards the peace process on Bougainville and in
particular the undertaking to dispatch two officials to
assess the situation.
Allow me also the opportunity to extend my government's
official invitation to President Bill Clinton to stopover in
Papua New Guinea, either to or from the APEC Leader's Summit
in Auckland, New Zealand next year.
Papua New Guinea is satisfied with the current warm and
friendly relationships enjoyed by both countries and is
pleased that this constructive relationship is now expanded
to cover various aspects of cooperation in areas such as
trade, investment, development and technical assistance, and
of course defense cooperation. We however, believe that
there still exists the vast scope and potential for
expansion, and we look forward to cooperating with your
government to further strengthen and consolidate our
bilateral ties for the mutual benefit of our countries and
Papua New Guinea is generally perceived as a country of
instability, thereby discouraging potential investors and
businessmen to explore and engage in business activities in
this great country. Your stopover today is therefore
particularly important as it will assist in deviating such
image, and to extend and also encourage potential foreign
investors and businessmen.
In trade and economy, in terms of bilateral trade, the Papua
New Guinea government is satisfied with the increase in
bilateral trade despite the fact that the balance of trade
is still in favor of the United States. Both our countries,
however, have the potential to narrow the trade imbalance
under the APEC process and Joint Commercial Commission. In
this regard, my government looks forward to working closely
with the USA government to improve this aspect of our
In the areas of development and technical assistance, Madame
Secretary, Papua New Guinea and the United States concluded
a development cooperation agreement in May 1990 to
facilitate development assistance directly to Papua New
Guinea, instead of via regional and international bodies.
Papua New Guinea values and appreciates the high level of
development and technical assistance it continues to receive
from the USA, including those through the USA Peace Corps
And the defense cooperation, as you know Madame Secretary,
both our countries have formalized several defense
cooperation arrangements which include status of forces
agreement, procurement of military equipment from the United
States, international military education and training
scheme, and the memorandum of understanding on joint and
combined military activities. My government appreciates the
forthcoming official visit by the United States Army
Attaché, Colonel Richard Warthurst, to Papua New Guinea from
9th to 11th of August, 1998, who will be accompanied by USA
original military assistance specialists Mr. Lowell Clarey
and Major Pep Cassidy of International Military Affairs
Division of (the) USA Army Pacific Command.
Papua New Guinea continues to benefit from these
arrangements and would like to further consolidate
cooperation in these areas. Papua New Guinea acknowledges
the important contributions by both the government of the
United States and Japan towards the protection of the
environment in Papua New Guinea under the Community Resource
Conservation and Development Project, which has been
designed to assist groups of (inaudible) and manages the
resources in ways that are ecologically sound, socially
beneficial and economically viable.
Papua New Guinea Government is satisfied with the
arrangement and would like to see increased cooperation in
this important area. On multilateral cooperation in terms of
cooperation at the multilateral level between our two
countries, Papua New Guinea is satisfied with current
arrangements and looks forward to the continued maintenance
and the expansion of this aspect of our relations through
various international forums such as WTO, APEC, and UN and
its agencies. In view of the above, I wish to congratulate
President Clinton and your government for its dedication
towards the promotion and advancement of democratic
principles throughout the world.
In conclusion, once again, on behalf of the government and
the people of Papua New Guinea, I wish to convey bon voyage
to you and also extend our best wishes to President Clinton,
the Government and the people of the United States.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister
and thank you very much for this wonderful greeting. Let me
say right at the beginning that I am delighted to be the
first Secretary of State of the United States to ever visit
Papua New Guinea and I am very, very pleased to be here.
For sometime I have been looking forward to this visit and
as an opportunity to reaffirm America's commitment to our
partnership with Pacific Nations and to see for myself this
nation's progress toward development and internal peace. And
those goals were very high on my agenda with Prime Minister
Skate today, but of course the nature of my visit has
changed since the tragedy at Aitape.
We flew over the devastated area on our way here just a
couple of hours ago. We saw the coastline where the thriving
community destroyed by the tsunami once stood. We could only
begin to imagine the horror of what took place there; it
simply staggers the imagination. Words could only begin to
describe the sorrow we feel at the death of so many
thousands of people, so many of whom were children. I want
to offer my deepest condolences on behalf of President
Clinton and the American people.
It's hard not to feel helpless before the awesome
destructive power of nature, but we are not powerless to
help those who are suffering or to take precautions that
might prevent needless deaths in the future. Since the
disaster, American military aircraft have flown $400,000 in
relief supplies into the country including water containers,
plastic sheeting, tents, cots, and medical equipment. All in
all this is roughly enough to provide assistance to between
two and three thousand homeless victims, and I understand
our third flight arrived just yesterday.
We have also flown a team of public health and medical
experts from our Pacific Command in Hawaii to work alongside
the Australian medical team here. And today, I am pleased to
announce that the United States is making available an
additional $650,000 to deal with the aftermath of the
tragedy for a total package of $1,050,000. This includes
$250,000 in new aid to compliment Australia's medical
assistance to survivors, and to help rebuild livelihoods in
some of the fishing villages that were destroyed. It also
includes an additional $400,000 to collaborate with Papua
New Guinea, Australia and others to improve seismic early
warning systems throughout this country.
As I said, we discussed a number of other issues today,
among the most important was Bougainville. Papua New Guinea
has an historic opportunity to end permanently a conflict
that claimed thousands of innocent lives. I want to commend
Prime Minister Skate's government for its initiative in
seeking a negotiated peace and for sticking to the process
until a cease fire agreement was reached. It's up to the
people of this country to make sure the agreement sticks,
that America will do all it can to help. I am happy to
announce that we will provide $450,000 to support U.N.
projects for reconstruction in Bougainville. We also plan to
support training for the Papua New Guinea electoral
commission so that it can ensure free and fair election of a
reconciliation Government in Bougainville.
There are many other issues that we need to be working on
together; we want to minimize the impact of the Asian
financial crisis on Papua New Guinea; we want to support its
efforts to build a more transparent democracy and a more
open economy and we want to help the Government in its
efforts to make Papua New Guinea more inviting to
investment. We want to work with the people of this country
to help preserve their forests, coral and fisheries for the
sake of the environment and development.
More broadly, I want to reaffirm America's continuing
interest in an engagement with the nations of the Pacific.
This is a region of democracies, a region of nations that
have been friends of the United States for many years and I
intend to build on this visit to increase our profile in the
Thank you very much and I think we now would be happy to
take your questions.
QUESTION: Trevor Chappell from Australian Associated Press.
Madam Secretary do you support, or what are your thoughts on
independence for Bougainville?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all as I said we are
pleased with the process that has taken place and salute the
Prime Minister for what he has done. We believe in the
territorial integrity of Papua New Guinea.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, Phil Shenon from the New York
Times. Can you tell us what is the status of the rescue
effort today and is there any hope of finding any additional
survivors from the tsunami?
PRIME MINISTER SKATE: The latest information I got is that
there are about 8,200 survivors, approximately 1,654 people
are dead. I think there are a few more yet to be found who
QUESTION: No hope of finding additional survivors?
PRIME MINISTER SKATE: I think there is some hope.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary has the Prime Minister told you
anything today that would give you increased confidence in,
say, telling U.S. investors to invest in this country?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We had a very good discussion about the
importance of getting more investment here. We discussed the
importance of making the investment climate here one that
would provide a sense to investors of accountability,
transparency, and generally a good climate for getting
investment into this country that has so much potential. I
was impressed with the fact that the Prime Minister
understands the potential of this country and his desire to
work with a variety of international organizations,
financial organizations, in order to make sure that the
currency gets stabilized and that reform is carried through,
and his desire, I think, to work with outside investors in
order to pursue development here in a county that has so
much to offer.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary have you heard any news today of
the events in Burma, is the government there going to allow
the United States and Japanese ambassadors to go and talk to
Aung San Suu Kyi?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have had reports from there the
standoff continues and we are concerned about Aung San Suu
Kyi's health and her ability to get food and water. We are
making sure that they understand the importance of her
personal situation as well as what she is doing politically.
As you know, we met in Manila yesterday, a group of
ambassadors, I'm sorry I'm not an ambassador any more,
foreign ministers who were working to make sure that our
voice was heard about the importance of dialogue and
reconciliation. There are on-going efforts to try to resolve
this conflict and again we urge the Government of Burma to
understand the importance of what Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD
are seeking and we are calling for a dialogue between
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could you also bring us up to
date on the situation in Cambodia and are you disappointed
that Prime Minister Hun Sen is so insistent on declaring
victory at this point?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all we need to understand
what has happened in Cambodia. Most important is that once
again the people of Cambodia have come out in record numbers
that many countries could envy of showing with their feat
and their votes what it is they want, and I think we need to
really congratulate them for that. The count continues to go
on. I think it is premature really to talk about results
counting is proceeding. There have been some allegations of
fraudulent activity; and those are being investigated and I
think that it is important to let the process go forward
which means allowing the count to go on before victories are
claimed. We were going to follow it very, very carefully. We
have observer groups there who will be giving their
assessment and reporting to all of us. But again I think we
need to focus on what the people of Cambodia have done which
I consider quite remarkable.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary Sean Dorney from the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation. In 1996 the State department
vetoed an attempt by the Papua New Guinea Defense Force to
buy ten surplus U.S. Army Iroquois helicopters because of
concerns about human rights abuses on Bougainville. Given
the progress on Bougainville would a similar request be
treated in the same way?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We would have to consider it. I think
that clearly the changes in the way that the Bougainville
problem was handled was quite remarkable and the Prime
Minister and I spoke at some length about his efforts and
what has happened there to end one of the more difficult
situations, not only in the region but in the world and if a
request were made we would consider it.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, could I ask you another Cambodian
question? Has the government in Cambodia been directly
apprised of the strong feelings of the United States and
other countries about the need for fair count on this
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, first of all certainly the
observers are making that clear and our representative there
have also and I hope they hear me now. I think that we
believe that it is absolutely essential that the process be
allowed to go forward, that a fair count is what the people
of Cambodia deserve. The world is watching them, and they
have an opportunity to put Cambodia on the right road after
a very difficult year. We will obviously investigate any
charges of illegalities, but the count needs to go on. It's
a process, and one should not make judgments about this
until the count is completed.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Jerry Ginua from the local
television. There is a suggestion that you wanted to go to
Aitape that is the area (inaudible) suggested.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I want, very much to make clear
the concern -- my own personal concern and that of President
Clinton and the American people for what has happened. But I
do not, did not and do not want to put any burden on what is
the rescue effort there. I know that there are many
different organizations and countries trying to assist
there, and having me arrive might be -- I don't want to
create another tidal wave (laughter). So, I was very
encouraged by what the Prime Minister said about how he is
trying to get better coordination of all the activities
there, and try to make sure that there are not overlapping
efforts and that the efforts go to the right places and that
there be accountability for the donations being provided and
for additional donations.
This is a big effort. The world has seen it, thanks to the
journalists who have really reported on it, and I think that
we want to make sure that efforts are directed properly. I
was very pleased to hear what the Prime Minister told me
about his plans to try to coordinate it. But, whether I am
there or not, my thoughts are with all the people there and
certainly with all the efforts that are being made. Thank
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Joseph (inaudible) from the
local media. There has been an international push for
self-determination for Irian Jaya ethnic people. What's the
U.S. position on that? If there is any position.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Sorry, I didn't hear.
QUESTION: There's been an international push for
self-determination by the ethnic Irian Jayans -- that's in
Indonesia -- has the U.S. Government got any position on
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, we believe that that is an internal
affair and we agree with the government here that has the
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