PRIME Minister Peter O'Neill has thanked outgoing Australian High Commissioner Deborah Stokes for her engagement in Papua New Guinea over the past two years.
High Commissioner Stokes will complete her posting later this month following a period during which the prime minister said had seen Australia and Papua New Guinea successfully manage a number of important issues in the bilateral relationship.
"Australia is Papua New Guinea's largest trading partner and the biggest investor in our nation," Mr O'Neill said.
"There are also a number of important bilateral and regional policy issues that have required careful management in the best interests of both countries.
"Working together our two countries have been able to stop people smuggling from Indonesia to Australia.
"Australia has also continued to engage meaningfully with PNG particularly in the areas of health care and education and I thank High Commissioner Stokes for her support in these areas.
"As PNG prepares to host APEC in 2018 our security cooperation with Australia continues to expand.
"Papua New Guinea appreciates this engagement that will help to ensure a safe and successful APEC year when we welcome world leaders to our shores."
Mr O'Neill said engagement between PNG and Australia was at times robust but always warm as two countries that maintain similar interest in stability and prosperity in the region.
"Through our engagement directly with Australia, and through multilateral forums that include the Pacific Islands Forum and APEC, we seek to find common ground to advance our shared interests.
"I thank High Commissioner Stokes for her contribution to development in our nation, and wish her every success as she returns to Canberra."