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Ardern and Fiame hold bilateral talks

Samoans will again be able to take advantage of scholarships to study in New Zealand as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the resumption of the Prime Minister’s fellowship awards.

Samoa’s PM Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and Ms. Ardern held bilateral talks on Tuesday. This was Ms. Mata’afa’s first visit to New Zealand in her capacity as prime minister.

Climate change and strategic talks took centre stage in the discussions held between the two leaders.

A press conference was also held after their meeting where the two leaders reaffirmed their position to follow the regional mechanisms when dealing with regional issues.

On the recent visit by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Ms. Mata’afa said there was a proposal that would have meant a regional deal with Pacific nations that recognised China.

She said no such deal could be made because it was a regional matter and needed consensus of the whole region.

“You will recall that there was a visit from the Chinese minister of foreign affairs. He had a particular proposal to the countries in the region who are affiliated or have diplomatic relations with mainland China,” she said.

Samoans will again be able to take advantage of scholarships to study in New Zealand as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the resumption of the Prime Minister’s fellowship awards. Picture: NZ Government

Ms Ardern said both Aotearoa New Zealand and Samoa share priorities and have exclusive challenges.

“I imagine a lot of our conversation will likely be focused on issues like climate change, and here in New Zealand it’s, of course, focused on making sure that we are getting our own house in order, but also partnering with our Pacific neighbours as we take on this challenge as well,” she said.

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“There’s also a lot of interest in our region from a strategic perspective, and I look forward to hearing your reflections on the current situation and also your reflections as we come into the Pacific Island forum.”

Ms. Ardern said there was capability in the region to deal with security issues and they could be addressed together.

She also stressed that Pacific nations still have the sovereign right to decide their own future.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (R) with Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Mata’afa in Wellington. Picture: NZ Government

Ms Mata’afa said the anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship signed by the two countries would coincide with Samoa opening its borders fully on August 1.

She added that assistance from New Zealand towards COVID recovery and administration of the vaccination had enabled Samoa to open its international borders.

Samoa started the celebration of its 60th anniversary at the beginning of this month. Ms. Mata’afa said Samoans living in New Zealand shouldn’t worry about rushing back as celebrations will continue for the next 12 months.

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