A GROUP of Australian Business leaders joined Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his first state visit to Papua New Guinea in late March.

“Papua New Guinea is already an important commercial partner for Australia, with two-way trade between our two countries valued at A$5.7 billion in 2012-13,” Mr Abbott said before his departure.

“Deepening our economic ties will be a key focus of my visit.”

“Australia’s relationship with Papua New Guinea is strong and wide-ranging. We cooperate closely on business, trade, aid, security and defence issues.”

Mr Abbott said he would have a one-on-one meeting with PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill before participating in a meeting with the PNG Cabinet.

He was also to open Australian aid-funded facilities at a Port Moresby school and visit an Australian aid-funded vocational training program at Port Moresby City Mission.

Mr Abbott also planned to meet with Australian Federal Police officers working alongside the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and lay a wreath at the Bomana War Cemetery.

“Papua New Guinea is Australia’s nearest neighbour. We share historical links, democratic values and an interest in promoting a secure and prosperous region,” he said.