Macron keen on Varirata forest lookout for bilateral talks with PNG

Prime Minister James Marape presenting a traditional eagle wood spear with totems to French President Emmanuel Macron
Prime Minister James Marape presenting a traditional eagle wooden spear with totems to French President Emmanuel Macron at Varirata Park as a symbol of friendship. Image: PNG Post-Courier/Asia Pacific Report

By Gorethy Kenneth in Port Moresby

One of the world’s top leaders and G7 member French President Emmanuel Macron had his one-on–one bilateral talks with PNG leaders at a forest lookout in Central Province today.

Prime Minister James Marape told media at APEC Haus yesterday that Macron himself wanted a walk through the famous Varirata Park in Sogeri and spend a few minutes at the lookout before heading back for more bilateral talks.

With his interest in climate change, Papua New Guinea will seek France’s support for an ultimate climate financing — a suggestion for a “Green Bond”.

Prime Minister Marape presented a ceremonial eagle wood spear with PNG totems to President Macron as a symbol of friendship with a message — “this spear will go with you all over the world and back to your country”.

“It may be just a piece of wood but this is a historical symbol of you taking a piece of PNG with you PM,” Marape said.

“Long live our friendship.”

Marape told media yesterday security and other details for Macron’s visit were all in place.

Forest nation identity ‘amplified’
“Everything is set, police and every security personnel are on standby,” Marape said.

“He himself said he wants to go to a forest. Papua New Guinea is a forest nation, with heaps of tuna, oil and gas.

“We are a forest nation so our identity as a forest nation will be amplified.

“The French President is a big leader in his own right — [leader of] a G7 member country, so him coming here is a privilege for us.

“There are conversations we cannot converse in terms of our forest conservation.”

France is member of the Group of Seven (G7) which is an informal grouping of seven of the world’s most advanced economies, including Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the European Union.

“I had asked him in our Gabon meeting for him to be a forest advocate for the global nations so that’s why we going to Varirata is symbolic,” Marape said.

“We will have a 30-minute walk in the forest and then instead of having a one-on-one meeting here (APEC Haus), we set the Varirata Park and at the Lookout Point,” he said.

“Then much of these will be, you know, for me as a nation, forest is a resource. If we have to conserve, people must pay especially those with big carbon footprints, they must pay for the conservation of our forest.”

President Macron is also visiting Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu on his historic Pacific tour.

Gorethy Kenneth is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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