By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s airspace will be closed for four hours with tight security for when US President Joe Biden touches down in Port Moresby on May 22.
And there will be a “little bit of discomfort” or reorganisation of life in the nation’s capital and travel arrangements in and out of Port Moresby around the key dates from May 21 to 22.
Five hundred security men will be deployed to provide protection for the world’s most powerful leader, President Biden, and also visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Pacific leaders.
Papua New Guinea is prepared and ready to welcome the two leaders –– President Biden and Prime Minister Modi –– and the Pacific leaders when they jet in two weeks from now.
Prime Minister James Marape will be flanked by government’s top ranking security bosses and a high-level ministerial team — Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso, Internal Security Minister Peter Tsiamalili Jr, Defence Minister Win Daki, Treasurer Ian Ling-Stuckey and National Capital District (NCD) Governor Powes Parkop.
The PNG Joint Security Task Force operation will mount its operations leading up to the key dates.
Security forces, snipers, secret service and special forces from the US, India, Australia and New Zealand will also arrive in Port Moresby in the coming days –– specifically to protect their leaders.
Many US intelligence visits
“There have been many visits by US intelligence, US security forces in the last six months leading up to today and for the next two weeks,” Marape said.
“It is not as if James Marape and the President are talking and hiding, there are much more detailed work that has taken place at the policy level, the official level and security level — today is just a front and face,” Marape said.
“We will have more of these conversations with you media for the public to know [what is] going up for the next 11 or 12 days before the actual meeting to take place.
“In 4 or 5 days into the actual meeting, there will be a security operation and so we will engage and the public will be informed and Air Niugini travel slots, because when [the] US President comes in, for three or four hours the air space will be shut down.
“Just informing each and every one of you.
Informing over finer details
“We will be informing all of you on the finer details on what takes place, in Port Moresby, in our airspace, for our travel comfort, it’s no ordinary time so there will be a little bit of discomfort or reorganisation of life in the city and the travel in and out of Port Moresby and around those key dates.
“I know the nation will tolerate because I don’t know when we will have a visit of that magnitude –– two powerful world leaders coming here, back to back. So I ask our country, one of the core purpose of this meeting is to inform us that yes it is happening and we will be announcing how we will be adjusting life in the city, especially days leading up to the meeting and the hours in the actual days these meetings are taking place and the time we say farewell to them at the airport.
“A lot of preparation is required with and in the entire country and our residents of Port Moresby city.
“We are safe and secure, we have a precedent of hosting APEC; they came and went with no major security issues — and generally speaking Pacific people and PNG people are peaceful and tolerant, and they welcome visitors.
Marape said he have his assurance that for the entire country “we are safe, we will work to our best to ensure that leaders that are coming here are looked after safely”.
Gorethy Kenneth is a senior PNG Post-Courier journalist. Republished with permission.