Monday, May 27, 2024

UK Foreign Secretary begins Pacific tour

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, will begin a tour of the Pacific tomorrow, aimed at strengthening partnerships with Pacific Island Countries, with a focus on climate change, scientific research and media freedom.

Mr Cleverly will visit Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, before joining NZ Foreign Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, for a joint programme in Samoa. They will then travel on to Wellington together for engagements on Saturday.

During his trip, the UK Foreign Secretary will announce new commitments to show the UK’s support for a free and open Pacific, including £4.5m of new funding to connect communities in Papua New Guinea and across the Pacific to clean energy sources, such as by providing an alternative to common but expensive and polluting generators. More UK experts will also work with Pacific communities to tackle marine pollution and maintain clean, healthy oceans, as part of the UK’s £500m Blue Planet Fund, the UK Government said in a statement today.

“The UK supports a free and open Pacific. At the very centre of this effort is partnering for the long haul with our friends in the Pacific Islands, listening to their priorities, and working alongside them as they forge their own futures,” said Foreign Secretary Cleverly.

“The UK is redoubling its engagement in the Pacific, offering our expertise in tackling climate change, protecting the region’s oceans, promoting public health, and supporting open societies and a free media.”

In Papua New Guinea, Mr Cleverly will meet Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko and Prime Minister Marape. He will also see a Fleming Fund-backed hospital in Port Moresby, visit the Grass Skirts project which promotes women and girls’ rights, and lay a wreath at the Bomana Commonwealth War Cemetery.

In Solomon Islands, he will hear from journalists who have taken part in a UK government-backed, BBC-led training programme, and meet Prime Minister Sogavare and Foreign Minister Manele.

In Samoa, the Foreign Secretary will join Samoan Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa and Minister Mahuta, hold trilateral talks, see the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and visit the Villa Vailima – Robert Louis Stevenson’s former home in Samoa.

The Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister Mahuta will then fly to Wellington together. Cleverly will be greeted at the New Zealand parliament by a traditional Māori Pōwhiri ceremony, before holding talks with Foreign Minister Mahuta and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins. Later in the day he will participate in a rugby training session with players in the Black Ferns, New Zealand’s women’s rugby union team.

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