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Winston Peters is welcomed in Rarotonga during his Pacific tour in February.

PMN News/Matt Manukuo

Politics

NZ's top diplomat is back in the Pacific

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters, is visiting the Solomon Islands, Nauru and Niue this week.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters is leading a high-level political delegation to the Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Niue this week.

He will meet leaders from the three island nations including Solomons' newly elected Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele for the second time, the first was in May.

The Solomons has been a key point of Pacific geopolitics since Manele's predecessor Manasseh Sogavara switched the nation's alliance from Taiwan to China in 2019.

This week's mission means Peters has visited 11 of the 17 other Pacific Islands Forum members since being appointed Deputy PM and Foreign Minister in November.

Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele meet in Honiara. Photo/MFAT

Peters visited Tonga, the Cook Islands and Samoa in February, and said New Zealand's relationships in the Pacific were "fundamental to our foreign policy, and we are determined to continue strengthening them.

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“We look forward to engaging with the political leaderships in Solomons, Nauru, and Niue, in the context of urgent development and strategic challenges in the region.

"We expect major regional issues to be on the agenda, including the events in New Caledonia, as we look forward to the PALM Summit in Japan next month."

In Nauru, Peters will hold bilateral meetings with President David Adeang and Foreign Minister Lionel Aingimea.

One of the world's smallest independent states, Nauru has close to 100 asylum seekers held in Australia's offshore processing centres. In September, the refugees were first transferred to Nauru.

Nauru also switched ties with Taiwan in favour of China, and a former president, Baron Waqa, began his role as the new secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum last month.

In Niue, Peters will lead a ground-breaking ceremony for the $20 million energy investment announced by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon during his visit there in early June.

Peters will also hold a bilateral meeting with Niue's Premier Dalton Tagelagi. Niue is celebrating 50 years of free association with Aotearoa in October.

Peters is accompanied by Minister of Customs Casey Costello; Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee (FADTC) Tim van de Molen; FADTC members Damien O’Connor and Teanau Tuiono; and Chair of the Labour Pacific Caucus, Jenny Salesa.

"There is a deep interest in and commitment to the Pacific across our Cabinet and our Parliament, and we are pleased to again be taking a broad political delegation into the region," Peters said.

The Kiwi delegation returns on Saturday.