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The annual Joint Ministerial Forum (JMF) between the Cook Islands and New Zealand will take place in Aitutaki this Friday 24 May 2019.
Prime Minister Puna will lead the Cook Islands delegation at this year’s forum, supported by Cabinet Ministers. New Zealand’s delegation will be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and include Minister of Police and Fisheries Stuart Nash.
This is the 7th JMF between the two countries which is expected will build on the outcomes of last year’s JMF forum hosted by New Zealand at the Waitangi Treaty grounds. The selection of Waitangi by New Zealand for its hosting last year was symbolic of the historical and cultural significance of the relationship between the two countries and discussions this week are expected to build on the positive outcomes from last year which included pension portability, strengthened ministry to ministry links and support for water and sanitation.
Discussions this week are also expected to articulate priority areas for co-operation between the two governments in the years ahead.
“Our political and economic relationship with New Zealand is in good health which enables a mature broad ranging discussion on a number of national, regional and international issues,” said Prime Minister Puna.
“The terrorist attack on Christchurch was a brutal reminder of how vulnerable every country is to acts of terrorism and we will be discussing with New Zealand strengthened security co-operation at the national and regional levels and beyond.”
The two governments are also expected to discuss better health outcomes for all Cook Islands through improved health workforce capability and strengthened connections between health systems.
Talks are also expected to extend to working together to maximise the benefits and minimise any risks from the Cook Islands graduating to high income country status and supporting the development and maintenance of resilience and accessible infrastructure in the Cook Island.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown is expected to lead for the Cook Islands at JMF discussions on financing for resilience building.
“We have for some time now advocated our development partners and multilateral development financing entities for financial products that reflect the slow onset of climate change impacts on our country. The likes of 60 year loans with zero interest rates. Without innovative financing instruments which recognise the increasing intensity of weather induced disasters, building resilience and managing debt sustainability is untenable for the Cook Islands and most in our Pacific region,” said DPM Brown.
Preparations for this week’s JMF have been coordinated by the respective Foreign Ministries of the two Governments with various discussions held since last year’s JMF at Waitangi.
Officials of both Governments met in Wellington last month as the JMF Working Group as part of preparations for this week’s discussions and we look forward to delivering some meaningful outcomes for our people,” said Foreign Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann.
SOURCE; COOK ISLANDS GVT/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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