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British Foreign Secretary cancels Samoa visit with NZ counterpart

Staff Reporters

APIA, SAMOA – 21 APRIL 2023: The British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has cancelled his planned visit to Samoa on 20 and 21 April where he was supposed to join New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta now on the final leg of her Samoa visit.

A statement from the British High Commission in Apia last night said that due to the emerging conflict situation in Sudan, the Foreign Secretary will instead travel to the UK via New Zealand at the earliest opportunity in order to stay on top of the situation.

“I’m hugely disappointed not to make it to Samoa on this occasion and it is with massive regret this decision has been taken. Samoa, and the Pacific nations more widely, are important friends to the U.K. and it is frustrating to get so close but to not quite make it,” the Foreign Secretary said in a statement.

“I have expressed my regret and intention to do everything possible to meet again soon to Prime Minister Fiame.”

James Cleverly
James Cleverly

The British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta was to meet with Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa alongside Cleverly, who was on his own four-day trip planned through the region. The pair were to return to Wellington to hold a bilateral meeting tomorrow.

“Together, we will reaffirm our shared commitment to supporting Pacific solutions to the challenges facing the region, including the impacts of climate change, and continued economic resilience in our region as we face global pressures,” Mahuta said in a statement Wednesday.

“Foreign Secretary Cleverly is a friend of New Zealand, and I’m delighted to travel with him to Samoa and be able to host him in Wellington.”

High among the geopolitical issues now affecting the Pacific region is the AUKUS Agreement of which New Zealand is not a part of and the Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta had just returned from a visit with the NATO allies.

Samoa’s Prime Minister has made her dissatisfaction known about the lack of consultation between the AUKUS partners Australia, UK and US with the leaders of the Pacific region when the agreement affects the region’s security and existing agreements to protect the region against nuclear armaments.

The AUKUS agreement plans to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, aimed at countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.