21 Feb 2006

New Zealand's foreign minister says Pacific remains priority

7:20 pm on 21 February 2006

New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, says the Pacific region remains a priority for him and he will be visiting many of the Forum countries this year.

In a wide-ranging speech in Wellington, he talked of the changes brought about by globalisation and terrorist threats to security, and the responses required.

Mr Peters says this region is a priority because the flow of goods and services, investment and aid between New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries results in them occupying the same economic, social and security space.

He says the quality of economic growth and social development in the region are matters of common interest.

"That means that the deeply concerning poverty indicators in parts of the Pacific are our problem too. It's in their interest and theirs, to see that our Pacific neighbours are well educated, healthy, able to earn a living, and can embrace the values underpinning a well governed democratic society."

Mr Peters also called on the U.S. to recognise the work of New Zealand in the Pacific.