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Right time for reset: Fiji and NZ explore deeper, more impactful bilateral relationship

Fiji’s soaring economy, rising global profile and continued embrace of international norms and standards have paved the way for a wider and deeper partnership with the New Zealand Government, according to Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

At a meeting in Suva between the Attorney-General and New Zealand deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters, Fiji and New Zealand have explored a number of new areas of cooperation, following the announcement of a ‘Pacific Reset’ by the New Zealand Government. 

During the meeting, the Attorney-General updated the deputy Prime Minister on the historic breadth of Fiji’s global leadership, including Fiji’s recent election to the Human Rights Council, a first for a Pacific island nation.

He briefed the deputy Prime Minister on Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s recent statement at a High-level Segment at the 40thSession of the Human Rights Council, which he delivered this week in Geneva, Switzerland. The AG also spoke on Fiji’s hosting of the 2019 Asian Development Bank Annual Meeting and chairmanship of the Board of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and, concurrently, the Small States’ Forum of the World Bank.

 “The time is right for a 'reset' of our relationship with New Zealand as we work to deepen a friendship between two nations who share a commitment to the long-term success of the Pacific. There is a huge amount of untapped potential for our bilateral engagement, and Fiji is keen to pursue cooperation that builds capacity in education and other key sectors of our economy. Building capacity is the surest way to move away from aid dependence and towards economic autonomy, which is where we intend this relationship to head,” said Sayed-Khaiyum.

“We're grateful to host the Deputy Prime Minister here in Suva, as we believe that personal relationships built at the diplomatic level support the high levels of open and transparent communication we're working to achieve throughout our bilateral engagement.”

Meanwhile, the New Zealand’s Minister for Social Development and Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni paid a courtesy call to Fiji’s Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa.

Minister Vuniwaqa expressed her utmost appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the New Zealand Minister and to discuss the issues, challenges and opportunities in the disability sector and promoting social development.

“New Zealand is often referred to as a welfare state and we are very fortunate to have its Minister for Social Development in Fiji to shed knowledge and best practices available that can be contextualized in Fiji to help the lives of our people who fall within social protection platform,” she said.

Minister Vuniwaqa said that the Fijian Government's main priorities are its people especially the disadvantaged and those living in poverty and they have been assisted through welfare programs under the Department of Social Welfare.

In response, Carmel Sepuloni said that she was happy to be in Fiji and to have the opportunity to discuss with Minister Vuniwaqa the opportunities and possibilities of cooperation in the social development and disability sector. She is looking forward to sharing knowledge and best practices to help the Fijian Government continue to further improve the lives of its people.

The two Ministers also met after a successful parliament visit by the Women Members of the Fijian Parliament to the New Zealand Parliament last week. The courtesy call also saw the Minister thanking the Fijian Government for working closely with the Government of New Zealand.


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