Fiame Mata’afa meets counterpart Jacinda Ardern in her 1st visit to New Zealand.
Samoa’s prime minister said on Tuesday that her country has no plan to establish military ties with China.
Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, who arrived in New Zealand’s capital Wellington on her first visit to the country after taking office, met with her counterpart Jacinda Ardern, the state-run Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported.
“There are no discussions between Samoa and China on militarization at all,” Mata’afa told reporters during a joint press conference along with Ardern.
Her three-day visit marks 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
However, Mata’afa said Pacific nations would discuss China’s security proposals at the Pacific Islands Forum likely to kick off on July 12.
Recently, China signed a security deal with the Solomon Islands that triggered a chain reaction from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the US.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also visited Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea last month to strengthen Beijing’s partnership with these island nations.
“The issue (security cooperation with China) needs to be considered in the broader context,” RNZ quoted Samoa’s premier as saying.
She also invited Ardern to participate in the independence celebrations of her country next month.
In a separate statement, the New Zealand’s prime minister said her country wanted close relations with Samoa.
“New Zealand is committed to enhancing and continuing to strengthen our relationship with Samoa as lifelong friends and I am proud to announce a special Prime Minister’s Fellowship in Prime Minister Mata’afa’s name to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our diplomatic relations,” Ardern said.