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By Jeffrey Elapa in Port Moresby

Papua New Guinea’s Defence Minister Dr Billy Joseph attended the second Japan Pacific Islands Defence Dialogue (JPIDD) in Tokyo, Japan, this week on his first overseas engagement.

The JPIDD is one of the pillars of the regional security architecture initiated by Japan and contributes to regional peace and security by fostering trust and sustained practical cooperation among its members and dialogue partners.

During the meeting, Dr Joseph and his counterparts and dialogue partners exchanged views on the regional security environment, issues and challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.

He stressed the importance of the Pacific Island countries and their security partners in the region to cooperate and collaborate to uphold and enforce the “rules-based international order” to maintain peace and stability in the region.

“As a Pacific family, we must stand united in response to the current and emerging security challenges posed by the intensification of geo-strategic competition, climate change, maritime security, non-traditional security challenges such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, transnational crime as well as space and cyber security threats,” Dr Joseph said.

“It is our common resolve to realise our shared vision for a Blue Pacific Continent, a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity, that ensures everybody live a free, healthy and productive life.”

He acknowledged the important roles played by Japan and “our traditional friends and dialogue partners Australia, New Zealand and the United States” in the JPIDD process and urged them to elevate their support for Pacific Island countries to collaborate and promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific for peace and economic prosperity for all”.

Regional training focus
“We call for our partners to genuinely assist the individual Pacific Island countries with a regional focus on capacity building in the areas of training, equipment support and infrastructure development with the principle of ‘helping us to help ourselves’,” Dr Joseph said.

“In doing so, we envisage our region to be a region that is capable of looking after itself, a region that is led by Pacific Islands, and a region that promotes collective regional response in addressing its regional security challenges.”

Fiji and Papua New Guinea have sent their defence ministers to the talks, with the crown prince of Tonga representing his country.

From the other 11 participating nations that have no military forces, senior officials have joined the meeting, either in person or online.

Defence ministers and the representatives of Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, France, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Japan, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, and Vanuatu have been attending.

Jeffrey Elapa is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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