SYDNEY - Australian warships, aircraft and special forces soldiers will help safeguard the security of world leaders at November's APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) in Papua New Guinea (PNG). It will be the first time a Pacific Island country has hosted the summit.
Defense officials have confirmed that elite Australian Army units are in Papua New Guinea amid concerns the impoverished nation's military is not adequately equipped to properly secure the APEC summit.
World leaders including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and the Chinese President Xi Jinping are all expected to attend the two-day gathering in November.
FILE - China's President Xi Jinping arrives for the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Nov. 10, 2017.
There are fears that cruise ships that will provide temporary accommodation in PNG's notoriously dangerous capital, Port Moresby, could be vulnerable to attack by terrorists.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed his country's massive military effort to provide security at the APEC summit, but the final costs of the contribution have not been revealed.
New Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is seen at his swearing-in ceremony as his wife Jenny looks on, in Canberra, Australia, Aug. 24, 2018.
"As you can expect with so many world leaders coming together the security and other arrangements that need to be in place need significant support. Our support to Papua New Guinea in hosting APEC has been in the works now for 12-18 months," he said.
Australian police have also been training and equipping local law enforcement officers.
Australian navy patrols have undertaken drills with Papua New Guinean forces as part of Exercise Paradise.
Royal Australian Navy Commander John Cowan was satisfied with the joint maneuvers.
"Can I say that the PNG defense force maritime element has shown itself to be a very very capable organization and certainly, I think, well prepared to meet the challenges ahead," he said.
Papua New Guinea is a South Pacific nation that lies to the east of Indonesia. It is Australia's nearest neighbor with a population of around 7 million people. Most rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was set up in 1989. It has 21 members working towards greater regional economic integration, including enhancing the role of women in business and promoting the use of digital technology. It also addresses food security as well as threats to regional stability.