PNG, Fiji reaffirm commitment

Papua New Guinea and Fiji have reasserted their commitment to collaborate on training of PNGDF soldiers at the Black Rock Facility in Nadi, Fiji.

The Black Rock Camp is a state-of-the-art Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Facility that boasts a large-scale relief warehouse, logistics headquarters necessary to coordinate work on relief response, a UN School, a medical center, and physical training facilities. The facility was built by Australia at a cost of AUD180 (K400m) million.

The proposed training is intended to prepare PNG soldiers for deployment locally, regionally and internationally on UN security and peacekeeping operations as well as to train and prepare them to respond appropriately to any natural and man-made disasters.

Minister of Defence Dr. Billy Joseph conveyed this to his Fijian counterpart Pio Tikoduadua at a bilateral meeting held on Friday 12 April 2024, on the occasion of Minister Joseph’s official visit to the Black Rock training camp in Nadi.

The collaboration initiative was first discussed between the Ministers three weeks ago in Tokyo at the margins of the 2nd Japan Pacific Islands Defence Dialogue. Minister Joseph was at the training facility in Nadi to iron out the finer details of the proposed long-term arrangement as well as to explore the opportunity for PNGDF soldiers to undertake short-term capacity building courses at the facility.

Minister Joseph said: “PNG and Fiji are the only countries in the Pacific with bigger military and are connected through our strong Melanesian heritage yet we don’t have any working collaborative arrangement between our armed forces. There is an MoU drafted in 2019 but has not been finalized so we have agreed to revisit and progress this document immediately and work within its frameworks to capture our intention to train our soldiers at the Black Rock training facility.”

He says this is also part of the broader responsibility for the Pacific to work together to take care of our own national and regional security and humanitarian interests.

As part of the short-term capacity-building program, Fiji has extended an invitation to PNG to nominate four PNGDF officers to participate at a UN-sanctioned training course to be conducted at the Black Rock UN School in October 2024.

The Fijian Armed Forces accorded Dr. Billy a quarter-guard parade along with a traditional welcome ceremony upon his arrival at the Black Rock Camp and a tour of the facility.

The Minister thanked the Government and people of Fiji for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to him on completion of his one-day visit.

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