Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today expressed condolences to the families of those who have lost lives in the devastating earthquake in Mexico, or are still waiting for news about their loved ones.
Latest reports are suggesting at least 140 people have lost their lives in today’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake.
“This is the deadliest earthquake since the one which hit Mexico City exactly 32 years ago today, in 1985, which resulted in thousands of deaths,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Tragically it comes only two weeks after an 8.1 magnitude quake off the Mexico coast which killed at least 90 people.
“On behalf of the New Zealand Government and the people of New Zealand, I would like to send a message of sympathy and support to President Peña Nieto and to the people of Mexico.
“New Zealand understands only too well the devastation that is caused by earthquakes.
“Our thoughts are with the injured, the loved ones of those affected, and the emergency services staff at the forefront of the response.
“While Mexican authorities have not requested international assistance, New Zealand stands ready to support any international effort if required.
“At this stage, there are no reports of any New Zealand citizens being injured in the earthquake, however the New Zealand Embassy in Mexico City will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today New Zealand will sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a ceremony during the United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.
New Zealand will sign the Treaty on the first day it is open for signature, September 20.
“Our signing at this first opportunity is consistent with New Zealand’s long-standing commitment to international nuclear disarmament efforts”, Mr Brownlee says.
“While no state currently in possession of nuclear weapons will be signing along with us, this Treaty nevertheless represents an important step towards a nuclear-free world.
“It establishes the first global prohibition on nuclear weapons and provides the international legal framework for a world without these weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand joined over 120 other states in supporting the adoption of the treaty at a United Nations conference in July this year.
The Treaty will enter into force once 50 states have ratified it.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is concerned by this morning’s launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea tracking over Japan – coming hot on the heels of threatening North Korean rhetoric directed to both Japan and the United States.
“Today’s provocative launch deliberately raises tensions,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand joins the international community in once again condemning this inexplicable course of action.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Japan in the face of this provocation.
“Now is a time for cool heads. Responses to North Korea’s actions must be very carefully considered.
“We continue to have dialogue with partner countries and will continue to support diplomatic efforts to bring about a resolution,” Mr Brownlee says.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and Minister of Science and Innovation Paul Goldsmith have today announced that Antarctica New Zealand, in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, will jointly develop a new Antarctic Science Platform.
“With a mandate to carry out New Zealand’s activities in Antarctica, alongside their existing logistics and infrastructure, Antarctica New Zealand is well positioned to support the delivery of a strategic and collaborative approach to New Zealand’s Antarctic science,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Following consultation with a wide range of sector stakeholders, Antarctica New Zealand has been invited to work with the Ministry to establish the new Platform.”
The Platform will bring together New Zealand’s top experts, facilities, information and knowledge for underpinning, longer-term Antarctic science critical to maximising scientific and strategic benefits for New Zealand.
“An independent governance group will be established to make funding decisions, based on advice and recommendations from the Platform host,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“This governance model will result in most research programmes and projects being developed collaboratively with input from relevant science providers and government agencies.”
$21 million over three years for the Antarctic Science Platform was announced as part of Budget 2017 through the Ministry’s Strategic Science Investment Fund.
This funding is additional to a number of existing sources of support for Antarctic research and will allow strategically aligned research that addresses key priorities for New Zealand.
The priority research areas will include understanding the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, change in the Antarctic atmosphere and Southern Ocean, threats to ecosystem dynamics in the Ross Sea, and connections between terrestrial and near shore Antarctic environments, including sea ice.
“The Platform science priorities will be supported by three cross-cutting themes of building innovation and interdisciplinary capability, developing long-term data sets, and developing technology,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Antarctic science is hugely important to New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These priorities have a high strategic and scientific value and will ensure we build a strong, internationally connected, and respected Antarctic science programme,” Mr Brownlee says.
MBIE will now work closely with Antarctica New Zealand to develop a Platform Plan. A governance group is expected to be established early next year with the Platform becoming operational from July 2018.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has welcomed the prompt and unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution imposing additional sanctions on North Korea.
Resolution 2375 was adopted by the Security Council earlier today, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on 3 September.
It is the ninth Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea, whose nuclear and ballistic missile tests violate previous Security Council directives. It follows Resolution 2371, which was agreed in early August.
“North Korea has shown, time and again, that it poses a real and immediate threat to both regional and international security,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand continues to condemn its provocative actions in the strongest possible terms.”
The resolution adopted today will significantly reduce North Korea’s oil imports, bans North Korea from importing natural gas and exporting textiles, and restricts the number of labourers from North Korea that will be able to work overseas and generate income for the regime. It also allows states to inspect vessels on the high seas suspected of carrying items prohibited by the sanctions regime.
The measures contained in the resolution are estimated to diminish North Korea’s export earnings by as much as USD $1.3 billion.
“This is money that North Korea will not be able to put towards its illegal nuclear and missile programmes,” Mr Brownlee says.
“These new sanctions send a loud and clear message to North Korea that its behaviour will not be tolerated by the international community and will be met with significant consequences.”
“New Zealand has identified the support that we can provide on sanctions implementation in the Pacific. We will also be undertaking prompt steps to implement the new resolution and the measures it contains.”
“New Zealand, once again, joins the international community in calling on North Korea to abide by its international obligations and turn away from its current course,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has returned to New Zealand after attending the 48th annual Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa, on behalf of Prime Minister Bill English.
“During the Forum, Pacific Leaders discussed and made decisions on a number of important regional issues," Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand’s proposition, with Australia’s support, to commit to deregistering any North Korean trading and fishing vessels currently flagged on Pacific states’ shipping registers was unanimously agreed to by Pacific Leaders.
"New Zealand looks forward to working with Pacific countries to identify and de-register illegally flagged North Korean vessels.
“Options for New Zealand support, working alongside Australia, include the sharing of intelligence and also providing maritime and legal expertise on the operation of shipping registries.
"By working together, the Pacific region can do its bit to help ensure that United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea are fully and effectively enforced.
"Pacific Leaders also held discussions on a range of important regional issues, including fisheries, climate change, security and trade.
"Leaders initiated discussions on a new comprehensive, regional security declaration and welcomed the signing by 11 Forum Members of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations.
"I would like to thank Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa for chairing an effective and well run Forum," Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced New Zealand will provide $11.5 million for aviation security in the Pacific, to support trade, tourism and the safety of the travelling public, most of which are New Zealand citizens.
“Pacific island countries must meet global aviation safety and security standards, and this funding will provide passenger and baggage screening equipment that will help them to meet those standards,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The aviation package of equipment and training will benefit nine countries over the next five years, and builds on our existing $2.5 million programme to help Pacific island countries to meet their international aviation regulatory obligations.
“As aviation security requirements are regularly increased, upgrades to security processes and screening equipment are necessary.
“The new security package will be provided to signatories of the Pacific Island Civil Aviation Safety and Security Treaty, which include Niue, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa and Nauru,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand’s aviation support to the Pacific is implemented by the Civil Aviation Authority New Zealand in cooperation with the Pacific Aviation Safety Office.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today travel to Samoa to join Pacific Leaders at the 48th annual Pacific Islands Forum, on behalf of Prime Minister Bill English.
“The Forum is an opportunity for Pacific Leaders to make decisions on the most important issues that we face as a region,” Mr Brownlee says.
“As a Pacific nation, New Zealand is committed to working with our closest neighbours where development assistance remains a priority.
“The Pacific is facing a range of regional challenges that no one country can tackle alone.
“The Forum is our opportunity, as a region, to find solutions to those challenges.
“I am looking forward to meeting with Pacific Leaders to discuss important issues from security to trade and from climate change to fisheries management.
“New Zealand and Samoa have a unique relationship based on our Treaty of Friendship, and I am looking forward to attending the Forum under Prime Minister Tuilaepa’s chairmanship,” Mr Brownlee says.
New Zealand will contribute $1.5 million for humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced.
The funding will be used by the Red Cross Movement to help affected people in Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh.
“This support will help meet critical the humanitarian needs, through providing emergency food, water, healthcare and household items,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The New Zealand government is very concerned with the violence and humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State.
“Whilst acknowledging the need to restore law and order, we urge the Myanmar Government to take all necessary steps to protect civilians and enable humanitarian support to be delivered to all affected communities,” Mr Brownlee says.
The escalating crisis in Rakhine has seen tens of thousands of refugees cross into Bangladesh, and another 20,000 are reported still stranded along the border.
The New Zealand Government is deeply concerned about the arrest of Cambodian opposition leader Kem Sokha, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
“Mr Sokha is a respected advocate for democracy within Cambodia, and we urge the government in Phnom Penh to be clear and open about the case against him,” Mr Brownlee says.
“It is vital for Cambodian democracy that opposition voices are able to be heard,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Sokha was arrested at his home in the Cambodian capital on Sunday and is being held in a prison outside the city. He has been charged with treason.
Mr Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, visited New Zealand in March and met with parliamentarians and officials.