By Agence France-Presse
Australia has reportedly deployed special forces to Papua New Guinea as part of a massive security operation for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby this November.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that elite Australian troops are already on the ground in the capital, which is consistently rated one of the world’s most dangerous cities.
The Australian forces are reportedly helping their PNG counterparts amid concerns the Pacific nation’s military was not adequately equipped to deal with such a large meeting of world leaders.
“We have Australian Army and Australian Special Forces assisting the PNGDF (Papua New Guinea Defence Force), making sure the counter-terrorism provision of services is first class,” it reported, citing an unnamed special forces commander.
“We’re standing ready to support PNGDF to secure the APEC meeting and help PNG showcase the country to the world.”
The broadcaster also said Australian warships would be used to protect cruise liners that have been hired to provide temporary accommodation for the November 12-19 summit.
Cruise ships are seen as particularly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and Australian troops are experts at boarding vessels at sea.
APEC represents 21 Pacific Rim economies, the equivalent of 60 percent of global GDP and some 2.9 billion people.
Leaders attending the summit include Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin — although US President Donald Trump will not be there, sending Vice President Mike Pence instead.
The summit will be the largest event ever staged in Port Moresby, which in the past has been plagued with crime and gang violence.
The Economist Intelligence Unit last month ranked the PNG capital 136 out of 140 on its list of the world’s most livable cities.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has vowed to provide a secure environment for APEC and use the summit to showcase “a culturally rich, economically modernizing country”.