14 Nov 2018

PM meets with Myanmar leader at Singapore summit

10:57 pm on 14 November 2018

New Zealand is offering to help Myanmar resolve the crisis involving hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Jacinda Ardern and Australian PM Scott Morrison in Singapore.

Jacinda Ardern and Australian PM Scott Morrison in Singapore. Photo: RNZ / Gyles Beckford

The offer has come from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The pair met on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Singapore today.

Ms Ardern has repeated New Zealand's long standing concern about the plight of the refugees, most of whom fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.

"There was a discussion about the current situation on the ground in Rakhine, and the need for security and development," a spokesperson said.

"New Zealand indicated our willingness to assist in any way we could to achieve an enduring resolution to the situation."

The meeting was the first in a series of high level discussions Ms Ardern was having with regional leaders on the Summit's sidelines.

She was having a first face to face meeting with Australia's new prime minister, Scott Morrison, where she was going to raise the issue of refugees on Manus and Nauru Islands as well Australia's deportation policy regarding New Zealanders.

Later this evening Ms Ardern meets China's Premier Li, with whom she plans to raise the renegotiation of the NZ-China Free Trade Agreement, as well as human rights and security issues in the South China Sea.

The last meetings are set for the Summit leaders' dinner, where Ms Ardern will informally meet Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and sit beside US Vice President, Mike Pence at his request.

Meanwhile, after her first face-to-face meeting with Scott Morrison, little seems to have changed on the issue of deporting New Zealanders who commit serious criminal offences.

Ms Ardern said she raised the long running issue again and New Zealand's unhappiness at the unfair outcomes for some people.

"We didn't talk about any specifically but I made the point that there have been examples where we've taken the view that we've had deported individuals where they wouldn't claim to have any particular connection to New Zealand, and he acknowledged that and there is discretion in the system."

She described Mr Scott's position on deportations as consistent with previous Australian leaders.

The pair exchanged gifts, Ms Ardern giving Mr Morrison a bottle of central Otago pinot noir wine, and he giving her a silver platter.

Ms Ardern said her meeting with Mr Morrison was not long enough and she would pick up further issues such as the Iraq military mission and regional security at other times during the summit.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs