French President Macron to make historic visit to PNG, Vanuatu

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How the PNG Post-Courier today reported the news of President Macron's impending visit
How the PNG Post-Courier today reported the news of President Emmanuel Macron's impending visit. Image: PNGPC screenshot APR

RNZ Pacific

French President Emmanuel Macron will make a first official visit to Papua New Guinea next Friday as part of a short Pacific trip.

AFP news agency reports that Macron’s trip will start in New Caledonia before he travels to Vanuatu and Port Moresby.

A French official told the news agency the trip was “historic” because no French president had ever visited non-French islands in the region.

President Emmanuel Macron in Noumea on an earlier visit to New Caledonia … “recommitting” France to the Pacific region. Image: Crikey

Macron will use those two stops to outline his Indo-Pacific strategy, aimed at “recommitting” France to the region, the official said.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape said he would meet one-on-one with Macron, and the itinerary for the visit also included a courtesy call on Governor-General Sir Bob Dadae and the signing of various agreements.

Marape emphasised the significance of Macron’s visit in strengthening bilateral relations between France and Papua New Guinea.

“Under my leadership, France and PNG have been actively enhancing our bilateral relationship, along with other nations,” he said on his website.

“I appreciate President Macron’s commitment, as demonstrated by his decision to visit PNG and engage in discussions on matters of mutual interest between our countries.”

Final LNG decision
Macron’s visit comes on the eve of the final investment decision (FID) by French super-major TotalEnergies on the Papua LNG Project.

TotalEnergies is also involved in downstream processing of natural resources such as forests.

“In the midst of the evolving geopolitical landscape in the region, Papua New Guinea serves as ‘neutral ground,’ and I will urge France to consider PNG’s strategic position amid the changing regional dynamics,” Marape added.

“The visit of President Macron to PNG will further solidify the growing cooperation and shared goals between our two nations, particularly in the areas of forest conservation, French investments in PNG such as TotalEnergies, mobilising resources to support small Pacific Island countries and communities, and other relevant matters.”

Macron last year relaunched France’s Indo-Pacific approach in the aftermath of a bitter row over a cancelled submarine contract with Australia, casting France as a balancing power in a region dominated by the tussle between China and the United States.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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