Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Sio steps in for COVID-hit Minister Mahuta

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, replacing Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, who has contracted 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,” Ms 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,” she 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,” said Minister Sio.

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