Marape to make state visit to Australia

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape will make a state visit to Australia as it seeks to consolidate its position with its neighbour.

Marape will be the first foreign leader to visit Australia since the re-election of Prime Minister Scott Morrison in May.

He will be accompanied by several government ministers.

“Discussions will focus on opportunities to boost trade and investment, ways to address shared regional challenges, and strengthening our bilateral cooperation on labor mobility, defense and security,” Morrison’s office said in a statement.

Marape will be in Australia from July 21 to July 26.

Australia is increasingly nervous about China’s influence in the Pacific region, especially among resource-rich countries such as Papua New Guinea.

The recent visit by Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville has been perceived as an attempt to maintain strong relationship in advance of the independence referendum that might see Bougainville as the next new country on the World map.