“We want to encourage further strengthening of trade and investment opportunities between the two countries,” Mr O’Neill said.
The prime minister added that he will talk about ways to develop economic opportunities along border areas as well as strengthening the management of border issues.
The approximately 800 km-long porous border between PNG and Indonesia’s Papua province is host to many issues. In addition to cross-border crossings by various tribes and people from Papua seeking shelter in PNG, there are continuing reports of human rights abuses against pro-independence activists.
Mr O’Neill stressed that his country’s policy is to view Papua as an integral part of Indonesia, but added that he looked forward to discussing matters surrounding the shared border.
“We are encouraged by the invitation by the Indonesian government. For the first time in its history, [the country is] asking PNG to help in some of those issues in West Papua,” he said.
Mr O’Neill said that many ministers will be on hand to sign agreements, with more than 100 business people also on the delegation.
Meanwhile, Radio New Zealand International reports that the decision to include the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation in the Melanesian Spearhead Group has received strong support in the Pacific, with the exception of Papua New Guinea.
Decisions in the MSG are usually reached by consensus. If Indonesia succeeds in lobbying PNG, it might persuade it to refrain from supporting West Papuan inclusion in the MSG.
Three weeks ago, the president of the self-styled republic of West Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut, made an appeal to MSG, the Pacific Islands Forum and the African, Pacific and Caribbean group of states to recognise his country.