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Torasi River a nagging border issue for PNG and Indonesia

Radio New Zealand - October 8, 2020

Papua New Guinea's Defence Force says it's working with Indonesian counterparts to reach a final understanding about a nagging border issue.

The PNGDF commander has responded to social media reports that Indonesia illegally established a naval post in PNG territory on a river mouth on the southern end of the two countries' common border.

Gilbert Toropo said he recently visited the Torasi River area to check the situation for himself.

He said some social media reports are misleading, but relate to a 2012 incident which officials from both countries are in ongoing talks to try and resolve.

"It's not only PNG Defence Force and Lands Department, but Foreign Affairs which is already engaging with the Indonesian embassy, talking with them to ensure that we have a joint verification committee to address the border once and for all," Gilbert Toropo said.

He described it as an issue that "has already been dealt with, but we are re-looking at it to make sure that we have a lasting understanding on how we conduct ourselves, both Papua New Guineans and Indonesians, along the border".

The PNGDF commander said at this stage he would neither characterise the Indonesian military's post in the area as an incursion, nor the situation a dispute.

Regular joint border committee hearings were tasked with address this and other issues on an ongoing basis, he indicated.

The Torasi River mouth and New Guinea's southern coast is an important area for fishing, and Toropo admitted that the PNGDF were always generally concerned that the interests of PNG fishing communities could be impeded.

"What we are working with, both sides, is for our officials from the Lands Department to do a combined joint border survey to ensure the border marks are clearly defined, so there is no confusion."

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/427848/torasi-river-a-nagging-border-issue-for-png-and-indonesia