Australia, Papua New Guinea to Share Naval Base to ‘Enhance Interoperability’

Australia will let its warships make port visits to Papua New Guinea’s base on Manus Island reportedly in order to increase Canberra’s strategic influence in the region.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday afternoon that he had signed an agreement with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that will see the two countries work together to jointly redevelop the naval base at Lombrum, Manus Island. Australia is likely to pay the majority of the project’s costs.

 Australia, Papua New Guinea Close to Finalizing Deal on Joint Naval Base

“This initiative will further enhance interoperability between our defense forces, and deepen our maritime security co-operation, including through increased Australian ship visits over time,” Morrison said.

The US founded the base during World War II, and it was later used by Australian naval ships to resupply in the 1950s and 60s, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Morrison also added that cooperating to upgrade the Lombrum base would provide “strong partnership with the PNG national government” and more economic opportunities for Manus Island residents. The Sydney Morning Herald suggested that Australia’s move to become a security partner to Papua New Guinea is intended to counter growing Chinese strategic influence in the region.

China has been helping Papua New Guinea’s government develop infrastructure, and the Australian government reportedly worried that Beijing…

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