New Zealand will assist the Fijian Government in developing a maritime security strategy.
Fijian Minister for Defence Inia Seruiratu said the purpose of the strategy is to drive the development of a more effective maritime security sector that responds with the right mix of interventions.
Seruiratu said the strategy will ensure that the country has a maritime sector that is able to secure its marine resources economically and environmentally in the interest of future generations.
“As we are in the vulnerable region, defence forces for both countries have a critical role to play in these areas. There are some policies issues as well,” he said.
“We had briefly discussed about New Zealand support to us in the development of a maritime security strategy that will support the national security policy that is before the government.
“The Fijian Government is thankful for the assistance taking into consideration their expertise and the necessary support that will come with it.
“Most importantly between our two forces in terms of capabilities and capacity development that are very critical for us given the challenges and development in the region,” he said.
He said he discussed some six years outstanding matters during his meeting with the New Zealand Minister of Defence Peeni Henare.
“We have been longing for this opportunity, the coronavirus had separated us. We have had meeting virtually. Since yesterday, we were able to have meetings in person,” he said.
“It’s always good to have the warmth of our friendship, the long-enduring true relationship that we have between New Zealand and Fiji.
“New Zealand and Fiji disciplined forces have a special bond which have been forged over decades. The visit of the minister reaffirmed our shared commitment.
“We had touched on few issues, there are some outstanding matters in 2016. These are humanitarian assistance and disaster response related,” he said.
He said the two countries are both committed to improving regional securities.
Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Peeni Henare says New Zealand will continue to work with Pacific Island countries until they are sure they can be sovereign and resilient themselves.
When questioned what they are doing to stop China’s influence in the region, he said we must be able to secure the Pacific.
“My stance has remained clear as the Defence Minister and our priority is in the Pacific. We must be able to secure the Pacific,” he said.
“We do welcome the presence of the United States of America in the Pacific as I had spoken to its secretariat. I enjoy their relationship for now,” he said.
He said there is a need to put an end to China’s influence in the region.
This story was written by Nacanieli Tuilevuka, originally published at FijiLive on 22 March 2022, reposted via PACNEWS.