25 February, 2024
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PM to work with PNG following hostage release

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The government will continue to work closely with Papua New Guinea after the release of an Australian professor held hostage was secured, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says.

The PNG government paid a small ransom to armed criminals who took New Zealand national and Australian professor Bryce Barker, hostage, alongside three others.

Mr Albanese said it was important people heeded travel warnings before undertaking any trips when asked if there was a heightened risk of kidnappings given money was paid and Australia had a no-ransom policy.

“We encourage people to follow travel advisories,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“Some of those advisories, of course, will indicate differentiated risk depending upon where people are.”

He also thanked PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape for his role in securing the release of the four hostages.

“To not just you personally for the role you played but to your personnel who played a very positive role,” Mr Albanese said.

“We welcome the release of all those who had been taken hostage.”

Prof Barker arrived back in Queensland on Monday.

Mr Albanese added he was pleased with the development of the bilateral relationship as Canberra and Port Moresby continued to negotiate a new security agreement, set to be finalised in April.

“I look forward to progress on the security agreement,” he said.

– AAP

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