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Pacific security challenges should be resolved locally, according to the New Zealand PM

Some of the Pacific Islands Forum's foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Fiji on Friday


Pacific security challenges should be resolved locally, according to the New Zealand PM

WELLINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) - Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, stated on Thursday that local security challenges should be dealt with locally and that regional architecture, such as the Pacific Islands Forum, is essential in resolving regional difficulties. Next week, the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum nations will meet in Fiji for their annual summit at a time when some nations are growing increasingly concerned about China's influence, which was underscored this year by a security agreement with the Solomon Islands. In a speech to the Lowy Institute think tank in Australia, Ardern stated that "New Zealand is committed to the Pacific Islands Forum as the vehicle for resolving regional concerns."

We are steadfastly committed to bigger aspirations for the security of our area, she said. Importantly, we observe that local security issues are being dealt with locally, with the Forum family prioritizing the security of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum. Concern has been raised, particularly in Australia and New Zealand as well as their partner, the United States, about China's expanding influence in the Pacific and the possibility of militarization in the region's small island nations.

China has been pressing for a regional cooperation agreement with nearly a dozen Pacific states on law enforcement, security, and data communications in the wake of its agreement with the Solomon Islands. In part due to an "intensification of geostrategic competition," the New Zealand government launched a review of defense policy, strategy, and planned investments as Ardern was speaking in Australia. Although the different agreements in existence and regional organizations should define cooperation in the Pacific, Ardern argued that others may still be interested in cooperating with the region.

"To say that this engagement, including China's, is brand-new would be inaccurate. Additionally, it would be incorrect to put the Pacific in a situation where they must "choose sides," "She spoke. In launching the defense review, Peeni Henare, the minister of defense for New Zealand, stated that the military collaborated daily with partners to maintain security and stability in the area. "The importance of this review is paramount so that we can ensure that future investments are fit for purpose in a post-COVID-19 environment, a Pacific region struggling with climate change and the escalating of strategic competition, and a world witnessing a brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine," Henare said.

The Pacific Islands Forum's foreign ministers are scheduled to meet in Fiji on Friday, but the representatives from Australia and New Zealand will be unable to attend. While Nanaia Mahuta of New Zealand has COVID-19, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong will be at a G20 meeting in Indonesia, their offices announced, adding that other top officials would attend in her place.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-pm-ardern-says-pacific-islands-forum-is-critical-2022-07-07/ 

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