Australian police to return to Vanuatu

Australian police to return to Vanuatu

Australian police to return to Vanuatu

Updated 14 February 2013, 9:14 AEDT

Vanuatu's government has agreed to allow the Australian Federal Police to return to the Pacific nation.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says Vanuatu's government has agreed to allow the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to return to the Pacific nation.

The announcement comes nearly a year after the 12-member AFP contingent was expelled because of their involvement in a diplomatic incident involving the country's prime minister.

The rift occurred last April when the AFP arrested Sato Kilman's private secretary, Clarence Marae, on charges related to tax fraud, while the prime minister's part was transiting through Sydney.

Following talks with Mr Kilman, Senator Carr said the Vanuatu government had agreed to allow the AFP to return.

"The prime minister and I discussed it briefly and it seems that any disagreement that led to them leaving the country has been well and truly resolved," he said.

"I think it's good for the Australian Federal Police to gain experience here and I think it's good for Vanuatu to have the benefit of their training and their advice."

The Australian police officers will return by the end of March in an advisory role.

Vanuatu's acting police commissioner, Arthur Caulton, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program the AFP's presence is only guaranteed until December 31 when a new five-year agreement will be negotiated.

"We're also being assisted by donor partners such as China; China is sponsoring equipment and logistical support to our infantry, or paramilitary unit, of the VPF," he said.

"We also have a mutual assistance program with New Zealand.

"So apart from the AFP, we have other partners as well."