16 Aug 2006

NZ foreign minister warns against cheque book diplomacy in Pacific

1:55 pm on 16 August 2006

New Zealand's foreign minister, Winston Peters, says New Zealand will continue to oppose cheque book diplomacy in the Pacific Islands region.

Mr Peters made his comments in a speech to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Wellington, at parliament, today.

Clare Pasley reports.

"In his speech, Mr Peters described an increase international interest in the Pacific region, With that, he says, come potential problems. 'It must be acknowledged while such engagement offers the prospect of very real benefits there are genuine risks that small island countries will be overwhelmed by the complexity of multiple engagements.' Mr Peters was positive about the ties France, Japan, China and the United States have with the region but he said he left other countries off his list because of the way they manage their relationships. 'New Zealand actively seeks to discourage cheque book diplomacy off-budget aid and aid with poor accountability, structures or gifts and other practices that encourage corruption and poor governance.' During questions after his speech, Mr Peters referred to Taiwan's role in the Solomon Islands election as an example of cheque book diplomacy."