February 2, 2023

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Pacific comes first for the islands: Ardern

[File Photo]

Powerful outside players who are seeking to engage with the Pacific must put the region’s priorities first.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern made this clear this morning during an exclusive interview with FBC News.

Arden says recent engagements has intensified and has polarized the region.

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She strongly emphasizes that the Pacific must be free of coercion and that bilateral relations must not lead to the militarization of our region.


“As I say there’s been a number of development partners in the region for a number of years that’s included China. But I think we all agree is a Pacific Island forum and family that yes, there are opportunities for other partners to come and work with us on a development economic opportunities, but establish where we believe those partnerships may tap into affecting one another.”

Ardern says it is fair to say that whilst the Pacific has had a number of partners in the region over a number of years, everyone from the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, China, and Pacific Forum members, New Zealand and Australia have been present working across the region for a number of years.

While many critics called the US engagement with the Pacific Islands Forum yesterday as a diplomatic coup, Arden remains confident about the US intentions.

“So you know, really useful to see the United States come and directly address that meeting, respond to leaders, concerns and requests. And in addition, I’ve also said that they do want to make sure that they are partners with the Pacific on Pacific priorities. This is something that New Zealand has been pushing for some time.”

The Pacific Islands Forum meeting ends today in Suva.

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