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.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee today named diplomat Pam Dunn as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“The ASEAN region is a key political and security partner for New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Ms Dunn will be based in Jakarta alongside our Ambassador to Indonesia, and will work to deepen the trading and political relationship.
“She will also be able to offer New Zealand’s support and expertise in areas such as agricultural development, education, disaster relief, collective security and combating transnational crime.
“Our exports to the 10 ASEAN countries totalled more than NZ$6 billion in the previous financial year, predominantly from goods in the agriculture and forestry sectors but also from services.
“This trade is underpinned by the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).”
“We hope to grow this significant trade and economic relationship, particularly in education and tourism,” Mr Brownlee says.
Ms Dunn was most recently Private Secretary, Foreign Affairs in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and has previously worked in Beijing and Shanghai.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has condemned today’s nuclear test by North Korea as utterly deplorable.
“This is the sixth nuclear test North Korea has conducted and appears to be the largest yet,” Mr Brownlee says.
“It follows two such tests last year and more than a dozen missile tests this year.
“North Korea has again demonstrated its complete disregard for its obligations under United Nations Security Council resolutions and for international norms against nuclear testing.
“Today’s test is a highly dangerous affront to the entire international community.
“North Korea has a choice. It can continue on this path, inviting further pressure and isolation and entrenching poverty and misery for its own people.
“Or it can choose membership of the international community and the security and prosperity that comes with it. Only North Korea can make this decision.
“New Zealand will join the international community in considering what further measures can be taken in response to this development.
“It is critical that all parties with an interest in supporting peace in the region think very carefully about what is needed to achieve a return to the negotiating table,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has denounced in the strongest terms today’s missile launch by North Korea.
The missile’s flight path took it over Japan, landing in the northern Pacific.
“Directly threatening the safety of the citizens of another country by flying a missile over them is a dangerous new escalation," Mr Brownlee says.
“This is a totally unacceptable threat in a region of considerable importance to New Zealand.
“We stand by Japan in light of this concerning development, and we stand ready to do whatever we can to facilitate respectful dialogue between North Korea and other nations.
“I strongly call on North Korea to come to the table for talks to deescalate this volatile situation,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is disappointed at this morning’s missile launches by North Korea.
“These tests come at a time when cooler heads seemed to be prevailing,” Mr Brownlee says.
“North Korea’s provocative acts indicate no desire to build the trust and respect necessary for the six party talks, aimed at reducing tensions, to resume.
“The question remains, why is North Korea so afraid of dialogue in favour of conflict,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell have announced that the Government has decided to bring home the group of New Zealand SAS troops in Tonga for a jungle training exercise as soon as possible.
"Rather than continuing on to do their scheduled training exercise we've concluded this is a time for Tonga to have some clear air, uncomplicated by the coincidental presence of NZDF personnel in the country," Mr Brownlee says.
"Tonga is clearly in a process of political transition and it's best we leave them to manage that without the added complication of a military training exercise going on.
"King Tupou VI has exercised his constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead about Tonga's plans for governance ahead of November's elections."
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says that given the dissolution of government, it is prudent to withdraw from Tonga and carry out the joint training with Tonga at another time.
“The relationship between the NZ Defence Force and the Royal Tongan Defence Force remains strong," Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an annual exercise, with the planning for this year’s event done in November last year, and we will reschedule it for a more suitable time in the future."