The Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio will travel to Fiji this week to represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Suva.
Aupito William Sio is attending at the request of Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who is unable to travel to the meeting after contracting COVID-19.
“The Pacific Islands Forum is at the heart of our engagement with the region. It is the pre-eminent institutional structure for addressing Pacific priorities, and talks with the PIF Secretariat were a priority during my visit to Fiji in March,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“This Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting which precedes the Leaders’ Forum comes at a critical time. The most pressing security and economic challenges for the Pacific are from the effects of climate change. Aotearoa New Zealand stands alongside the Pacific to mitigate and adapt to the impact of sea-level rise. Half of our $1.3 billion climate finance commitments announced late last year are for the Pacific.
“We also welcome the Pacific-led solution that will see Micronesian states represented at the Forum this year, and acknowledge the leadership of the Fiji government and the PIF Secretariat to secure this outcome,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“We are looking forward to reconnecting kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face, with other Pacific ministers and leaders, after disruptions to previous meetings caused by COVID-19. This will be the first in-person meeting of Forum Foreign Ministers since 2019,” Aupito William Sio said.
“Other pressing issues for the Forum include regional responses to broader security challenges, including maritime surveillance and illegal fishing, support for economic resilience, managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and responding to natural disasters and emergencies.
“It will be a valuable opportunity to initiate region-wide discussions on key Pacific priorities. These conversations will be continued by Leaders when they gather next week at the Forum Leaders’ meetings in Suva, from the 11th to 14th of July.
“I look forward to the opportunity to talanoa with my counterparts from across the Blue Pacific Continent. It has been challenging to bring all Ministers together given the impact of the global pandemic and a number of national elections underway in the Pacific, but this talanoa is essential for our region. I would like to thank Fiji for chairing and hosting the Forum meetings this year,” said Aupito William Sio.