The Papua New Guinea's (PNG) government has appointed a new foreign minister with the aim to mend relations with Australia which soured over fugitive Australian lawyer Julian Moti.
PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare has handed his foreign affairs portfolio to the trade and industry minister, Paul Teinsten, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio reported Thursday.
The prime minister said the foreign minister's first task is to re-establish diplomatic dialogue with Australia.
The move came after the PNG government on Wednesday suspended its defense force commander, Peter Ilau, the chief secretary to the government, Joshua Kalinoe, and the acting police commissioner, Tom Kulunga over Moti's case.
Somare has denied the suspensions are because of Australia's pressure.
He said the suspensions are a result of the government's investigations into the case.
Moti, an Australian citizen, was appointed as Solomons attorney- general on September 21 and was arrested in PNG at the end of September at the request of the Australian government, who is seeking to extradite Moti to face child sex charges involving a 13- year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997.
Moti later jumped bail and had been taking political refuge in the Solomon Islands High Commission in PNG before he was flown to the Solomon Islands on board a PNG military plane a month ago.
Moti's case is now the focus of the strained relations between the Solomons and Australia which is sparked by the expulsion of Australian high commissioner in September.
Canberra also suspended visits by PNG ministers to Australia.