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Students at the University of Papua New Guinea staged a sit-in protest at the University Forum Square as early as 7am this morning.

They protest against the proposed Defence Cooperation Agreement that is scheduled for signing this afternoon.

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is already in the country to sign Defence Corporation Agreement and Shiprider Agreement with PNG.

The students raised grievances that the proposed Agreements between PNG and the United States concern national security and its content must be made known for public scrutiny and transparency before signing takes place. 
However, Prime Minister James Marape had said earlier that the agreements to be signed are transparent.

Marape added that not all agreements signed should be presented to Parliament earlier. He said the country's State Solicitor who represents PNG's legal checks and balances has been with this every step of the way and has given the clearance on this matter representing the laws of this country. Marape said as soon as it is stable for transparency the country will be privy to those agreements as we table in Parliament.

''I just wish to assure everyone, that Parliament will be privy to what we are about to sign and at the moment our Foreign Affairs team has been leading the negotiations and we are at the stage where we are almost there for signing.

''I want to give assurance to our country, it is nothing to be sceptical about,'' said Marape.

Marape further elaborated that similar agreements and cooperation have been reached with other countries and we can reach out to other bilateral partners with similar agreements as stipulated in the Constitution as well as the country's foreign policy-''Friends to All and Enemies to Non''.

 The US and PNG already have a Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA. A status of forces agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a host country and a foreign nation stationing military forces in that country. SOFAs are often included, along with other types of military agreements, as part of a comprehensive security arrangement.

Marape briefly stated that the SOFA agreement does allow for Defence Corporations with the US and others and those have been the blanket in which operations of other forces have been engaged up till this pointing time and PNG is just elevating this specific with the USA.

Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso also clarified that once the agreement is agreed by the NEC and signed off by the Prime Minister and Defence minister it will be brought before Parliament and discussed in Parliament before it becomes law.

Finance Minister Rainbo Paita on behalf of the Government addressed the students at the UPNG Forum Square and received the petition presented by the Student Representative Council President, Luther Kising.

Other Tertiary Institution's student bodies such as the University of Technology have also protested against the Defence Cooperation Agreements.

Meanwhile, there is a high presence of Police personnel at the entrance to the UPNG preventing further escalation of the protest.

NBC News PNG- Stella Martin/Rose Amos

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