Minister Aupito William Sio Steps in for Minister of Foreign Affairs at Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji

Associate Foreign Minister Aupito William Sio will travel to Fiji this week to represent New Zealand at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Suva.

Minister Sio is attending at the request of Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who is unable to travel to the meeting after contracting COVID-19.

Minister Mahuta says, “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.

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,” says Minister Mahuta.

Minister Sio says they are looking forward to reconnecting 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. Also on the agenda for discussion will include regional responses to broader security challenges, including maritime surveillance and illegal fishing, support for economic resilience, managing the COVID-19 pandemic, and responding to natural disasters and emergencies.

These conversations will be continued by Leaders when they gather next week at the Forum Leaders’ meetings in Suva, from the 11th to 14th of July.