Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio will attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s stead as she recovers from covid-19.
In a statement confirming the move this afternoon Aupito, who is also the Associate Foreign Minister, said he looked forward to the opportunity to talanoa with Pacific Island counterparts at the forum in Fiji next week.
“This will be the first in-person meeting of Forum Foreign Ministers since 2019,” he said.
“It has been challenging to bring all ministers together given the impact of the global pandemic and a number of national elections under way in the Pacific, but this talanoa is essential for our region.”
Mahuta said the forum was at the heart of New Zealand’s engagement with the Pacific, and this meeting came at a “critical time” considering the climate change challenge.
She confirmed over the weekend she had tested positive for covid-19, and would be unable to attend.
Aupito said the response to broader security challenges — including maritime surveillance and illegal fishing — economic resilience, and natural disaster response were also pressing issues that would be discussed.
The Forum will also be attended by heads of state, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Leaders’ meetings will take place from Monday to Thursday next week, July 11-14.
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