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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Australian Police Stage Meeting With Vanuatu Government
Police expelled from country earlier after PM’s airport row

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 24, 2013) – Two Australian Federal Police (AFP) Officers arrived in Vanuatu yesterday afternoon to hold discussions with the Vanuatu Government.

A spokesperson in the Australian High Commission confirmed to Daily Post yesterday afternoon that the two AFP officers are here in Port Vila to hold discussions with the Vanuatu Government but would not comment further on the details of the intended discussions.

The Prime Minister’s Office, Public Relations Officer Jeff Joel Patunvanu told Daily Post yesterday afternoon that the Government will comment on this sometime tomorrow (today).

"I can confirm that the two AFP Officers arrived in Vanuatu this afternoon (yesterday afternoon) to hold discussions with the Vanuatu Government on the AFP but cannot comment further at this stage," the Australian High Commission Spokesperson told Daily Post.

On April 2012 all 12 AFP personnel and their families left Vanuatu and returned to Australia.

Their departure from Vanuatu followed a decision by the Vanuatu Government to expel AFP Officers in retaliation to the treatment received by Prime Minister Sato Kilman at the Sydney International Airport while the prime minister and his delegation was on his way to the State of Israel and the arrest of the then Prime Minister’s Private Secretary, Clarence Marae, by the AFP at the Sydney International Airport.

On his return from the State of Israel, Prime Minister Sato Kilman expressed grave concern in the way he and his delegation were treated by the AFP at the Sydney International Airport that included the arrest of Mr. Marae.

On April 2012 the Vanuatu Government advised the Australian High Commission in Port Vila through a statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Alfred Carlot of its (Vanuatu Government) decision to close down the within 24 hours the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Liaison within the Australian High Commission and the immediate closure of all AFP operations in various government agencies in Vanuatu.

In the government statement then delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in a local press conference, Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot quoted the government statement to the Australian High Commission that the Vanuatu Government expected a swift implementation of the decision taken by the Vanuatu Government to ensure respect of each other’s sovereignty and the principle of mutual understanding and cooperation.

In the same statement delivered by the Foreign Affairs Minister to the Australian High Commission in Port Vila, Minister Carlot said the Government had to take the decision to ensure that respect for national sovereignty and country leaders prevail at all times and that other factors should not override the sovereignty considerations.

The issue of the AFP between Port Vila and Canberra has since remained silent over the past seven months.

Meanwhile, Government Public Relations Officer, Jeff Joel Patunvanu, told Daily Post yesterday that the government will comment on the issue sometime today.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
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