The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand on Sunday reiterated their mutual commitment to “peace and stability” in the strategic Indo-Pacific region, in the backdrop of the growing influence of China.
In a meeting in Brisbane, the leaders discussed a number of bilateral issues including the AUKUS security pact (established by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States).
“New Zealand, like Australia, is clear-eyed that there is a challenging strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific region. We both want a stable, secure and resilient region,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said in a press conference alongside his counterpart Anthony Albanese.
The trilateral security pact AUKUS was signed in September 2021 with an eye to the growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific, and result in Canberra acquiring nuclear submarines in future, a technology that has triggered some concerns in Wellington.
“I acknowledge our ongoing joint commitment to the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and I welcome your assurance that nothing in the AUKUS arrangement alters Australia’s commitment to that,” Hipkins said, addressing Albanese.
New Zealand has maintained a strict anti-nuclear stance since 1987.
On his part, the Australian PM highlighted the solid ties between the two sides and said that he had kept his New Zealand counterpart informed of the developments towards acquiring the submarines.
“Today we had another discussion about peace and security and stability in the region,” Albanese underlined.
In March, Wellington announced that it was considering a proposal to partially join the AUKUS defense alliance through the exchange of information and technology, but excluding its nuclear aspect.
“New Zealand agrees with the AUKUS partners that the collective objective needs to be the delivery of peace and stability and the preservation of an international rules-based system in our region,” Hipkins said on Sunday.
Apart from the security pact, the two PMs also discussed bilateral issues such as the recent legislative reform announcement that will facilitate dual citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia through easier requirements.
Source : La Prensa Latina