EAM Jaishankar, New Zealand counterpart discuss peace and stability in Indo-Pacific
This was Jaishankar's first interaction with New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta since she took charge in November
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta on Monday discussed bilateral relations and steps to jointly work for peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Jaishankar and New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahuta spoke over phone and discussed bilateral issues, shared vision of the Indo-Pacific and regional issues, roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and expectations about post-COVID recovery, people familiar with the matter said.
They agreed to keep in touch for further strengthening of bilateral cooperation, and for promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
This was Jaishankar's first interaction with Mahuta since she took charge in November last year.
Mahuta became the first woman and first Maori to be appointed as the Foreign Minister of New Zealand after the November 2020 victory of the Labour Party under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's leadership.
Since her appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs, she has established contacts with her counterparts from other countries.
The idea of an introductory call with EAM Jaishankar came in this context, and was proposed by New Zealand side, people familiar with the matter said.
Delivering her inaugural foreign policy speech to the diplomatic corps in New Zealand on February 4, outlining her country’s foreign policy priorities, Foreign Minister Mahuta said that New Zealand had a deep stake in the wider Indo-Pacific region’s stability, peace and prosperity, including through greater economic integration, and adherence to its institutions and norms.
She further said that the 10 ASEAN countries, Japan, Korea, and India were all important relationships for New Zealand. According to her, New Zealand had much in common with them and would continue to invest efforts with them.
It is worth noting that the two countries also enjoy strong trade ties.
For the year ending September 2020, India-New Zealand bilateral trade stood at US$ 1.65 bn, making India NZ’s 11th largest trading partner.
Persons of India Origin (PIOs) in New Zealand also contribute a lot to strong relations between the two nations.
Their number is estimated to be about 2,50,000, constituting almost 5% of the country's total population.
In fact, Hindi is one of the most widely spoken languages in New Zealand. There are more than 15,000 students from India pursuing different courses in universities in New Zealand.
According to a recent study, PIOs are contributing more than NZ $10 bn to the New Zealand economy.
In the October 2020 general elections, two candidates of Indian origin, Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Gaurav Sharma, emerged victorious for the first time.
Radhakrishnan went on to become the first-ever PIO to be appointed a Minister in the New Zealand Government.