New Zealand PM to meet Biden to discuss US engagement in Indo-Pacific

By Lucy Cramer

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will meet U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, where she said she planned to discuss ongoing U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. Issuu Kuni

“The situation in our region is our priority, alongside the situation in Ukraine,” she told New Zealand media at a news conference in Washington DC. “We will encourage the United States to truly continue and deepen its engagement in our region, including economic engagement, which is truly critical to our region.”

The meeting took on greater significance as New Zealand in recent weeks raised concerns about China’s presence in the region after learning that Beijing had signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands. China has made concerted efforts to increase its influence and the country’s foreign minister is currently in Tonga on a regional tour. (nL4N2XN068) Teespring

Ardern said that in addition to meeting Biden, she also expected to meet with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell.

“It’s not about annouceables. It’s not about new initiatives. It’s actually about this relationship,” she said.

Ardern traveled to the United States as part of a trade delegation promoting New Zealand and business. She also delivered the commencement address at Harvard University.

The two countries are close friends, but meeting Biden had been uncertain after Ardern tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, given the White House’s strict pandemic protocols.

Three members of Ardern’s delegation have also tested positive for COVID.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)