The village of Hanuabada on the outskirts of PNG capital Port Moresby.
Sydney CNN  — 

Australia and Papua New Guinea have signed a major security agreement that will place Australian police in the Pacific nation.

Speaking to reporters alongside Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape in Canberra on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese characterized the deal as a “significant and historic” agreement between two countries with already close relations.

“It will make it easier for Australia to help PNG address its internal security needs and for Australia and Papua New Guinea to support each other’s security and the region’s stability,” Albanese said.

The new deal cements Australia’s role in Papua New Guinea’s policing, judiciary and defense. Australia has pledged 200 million Australian dollars ($130 million) to support the initiatives, including a training center for police recruits.

While the deal does not preclude Papua New Guinea from signing pacts with other nations, both countries agreed to consult with one another on security threats.

Marape said Papua New Guinea’s judiciary, public service and borders were established by Australia before the country became an independent nation 48 years ago.

“You have always given support to us. What happens up north of your borders has deep, deep shared effect, benefit, consequences, on our region,” Marape said.

He told reporters the agreement with Australia showed they were “brother and sister nations,” but added his country would not pick sides as it had a foreign policy of “friends to all.”

The deal comes in the wake of a US security agreement with Papua New Guinea signed in May which included upgrades to local military bases.

In 2022 China and the Solomon Islands shocked the US and its allies by announcing a bilateral security pact, affirmed in Beijing in July. The deal between Honiara and Beijing stoked fears of the possibility of a Chinese military base in the western Pacific and prompted a diplomatic push by Australia in the Pacific.

Asked about China at the Canberra press conference, Marape said Papua New Guinea’s relationships with the US and Australia don’t come at the “expense of our relationships elsewhere.”

Reuters contributed reporting.