Fiji is looking forward to working closely with New Zealand at all levels towards eliminating nuclear weapons, including joint advocacy efforts with our partners. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that nuclear disarmament is an issue very close to the region during a bilateral meeting with New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament Affairs, Honourable Phil Twyford.

The Prime Minister met with Minister Twyford along the margins of the High-Level Segment of the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in Vienna, Austria.

New Zealand is one of the original 50 States parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). At the regional level, the Prime Minister also thanked New Zealand for its commitment as a party to the Treaty of Rarotonga.

With over 50 years of historical ties, New Zealand is a valuable development and strategic partner to Fiji and a member of our Pacific family.

For this, Prime Minister Bainimarama said he is inspired by the resilience and support of our bilateral partner as we work together to respond to the many challenges before us.

He further added that our relationship has been strengthened through expanding links between our people and institutions, and our common interests in the region and beyond.

Fiji and New Zealand have expanded the scope and level of partnership and engaged in new areas of cooperation, including in trade and investment, labour mobility, defence, climate change, resilience building, and humanitarian relief and disaster responsiveness as articulated in the Duavata Partnership.

On the COVID-19 issue, the Head of the Fijian Government thanked Aotearoa New Zealand, for supporting Fiji in our response and recovery efforts including, direct budget support, access to vaccines, and the deployment of medical personnel and essential equipment.

He also updated the Minister that Fiji’s vaccination campaign is progressing well with 95% of the population vaccinated, and also our ongoing efforts for the administration of booster shots.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Bainimarama also highlighted our recovery efforts post COVID-19 and commented that Fiji is focused on fostering private sector-led growth to create investment and business opportunities, making more jobs available for Fijians within the tourism, trade and investment, and agriculture sectors.

While delivering his concluding remarks, the Prime Minister discussed the upcoming Pacific Islands Leaders Forum and said that our focus has been on rebuilding trust and confidence in our relationships as a Forum family, as we navigate geopolitical challenges within the region, the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing climate crisis, which is an existential threat.

Prime Minister Bainimarama said he looks forward to meeting his New Zealand counterpart, Honourable Jacinda Ardern at the Forum Leaders Meeting for more active discussions aimed at strengthening regional solidarity. Honourable Twyford, in response, thanked the Prime Minister for the opportunity to further discuss nuclear disarmament, among other important issues.

He commended Fiji for its commitment to climate action, and for pushing regional solidarity and partnerships. Minister Twyford also discussed opportunities for trade and investment, the labour mobility scheme, and our commitments under the Duavata Partnership Agreement.