# PAPUA NEW GUINEA FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNS OVER CORONATION TRAVEL COST CONTROVERSY
On Friday, May 13th, Justin Tkatchenko, the Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG), announced his resignation amid criticism over the cost and size of the country’s delegation to the coronation of King Charles III in London. According to media reports, each delegate had an allowance of 50,000 kina ($14,000) to cover hotels and airfares, which created controversy regarding the best use of public funds. As a result, Tkatchenko decided to resign as a minister and “stood aside” after consulting with Prime Minister James Marape, who will assume the portfolio. Tkatchenko will remain in parliament.
## BIDEN AND MODI TO VISIT PNG
US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are scheduled for a historic visit to PNG on May 22nd. The country has been courted by both the United States and China amid growing interest in the Pacific islands region. On Wednesday, Tkatchenko announced that Biden would sign a defense pact with PNG, a deal in which he had been involved in the US negotiations. The pact is viewed as a counter to China’s growing military presence in the Pacific.
## MARAPE TO TAKE OVER SUPERVISION OF PREPARATIONS
In a statement on Friday evening, Prime Minister Marape announced that he would take over supervision of preparations for the arrival of Biden, Modi and more than a dozen Pacific island leaders. He commended Tkatchenko for putting the national interest first and acknowledged his resignation as a necessary step to ensure transparency in government affairs.
## CONTROVERSY OVER DELEGATION COSTS
The controversy over the cost and size of the PNG delegation to London’s coronation started after some social media users questioned the allocation of public funds for the trip, instead of using the money for essential services such as hospitals. The controversy was fueled by a video posted by Tkatchenko’s daughter, who accompanied him on the trip, showing her discussing luxury shopping before boarding a flight in Singapore. The video led to backlash against Tkatchenko and his daughter, prompting an apology from the former for calling the critics “primitive animals.” Marape also apologized for the “traumatic experience” faced by Tkatchenko’s family.
## PNG’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES AND CHINA
PNG is a member of the Commonwealth and has strategically important natural resources, which have placed it at the center of a growing contest for influence between the United States and China. PNG’s relationship with China has been a cause for concern for the United States, as China continues to establish strategic ports in the region, raise military presence and increase economic cooperation with Pacific island countries. The United States, on the other hand, sees PNG as a key strategic partner in the Pacific, citing its location as a gateway to Southeast Asia and its resource-rich land as key reasons for pursuing a defense pact.
| Keywords |
| Papua New Guinea |
| Justin Tkatchenko |
| James Marape |
| coronation |
| controversy |
| Joe Biden |
| Narendra Modi |
| United States |
| China |
| Pacific Islands |
In conclusion, Justin Tkatchenko’s resignation as Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea over the controversy surrounding the cost and size of his country’s delegation to London’s coronation has brought to light the strategic importance of the Pacific islands region and the growing interest from major global powers like the United States and China. The controversy has prompted discussions about the allocation of public funds and highlights the need for transparency in government affairs.
Source: [CNN News](https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/13/asia/png-foreign-minister-resignation-intl-hnk/index.html)