Regional approach the focus at ASEAN and East Asia Summit talks

The Foreign Minister has wrapped up a series of meetings with Indo-Pacific partners in Cambodia which reinforced the need for the region to work collectively to deal with security and economic challenges.

Nanaia Mahuta travelled to Phnom Penh for a bilateral meeting between ASEAN foreign ministers and Aotearoa New Zealand, and wider ministerial engagements during the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit.

“The visit to Cambodia reaffirms Aotearoa New Zealand’s enduring partnership with ASEAN and its dialogue partners,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“Ministers from the Indo-Pacific met in the midst of regional and global security conflicts and economic challenges. We reinforced the importance of responding collectively to promote a rules-based approach and safeguard the sovereignty of all states, regardless of their size.

“Participation in these meetings was an opportunity to put on record our values-based position on key issues on the regional security agenda. This includes our strong condemnation of the violence in Myanmar, including executions of pro-democracy activists, which reverse years of economic development and social progress in Myanmar.

“With regard to Myanmar, more needs to be done. New Zealand responded swiftly to the military coup one year ago and suspended high-level political and military engagement; instituted travel bans; and re-channelled humanitarian support directly to aid groups and away from military control. We are gravely concerned by the executions of four prisoners.

“At the Cambodia meetings we joined regional partners to express deep disappointment at the lack of commitment by the Myanmar military to ASEAN’s Five-Point Consensus to end the violence and return to civilian rule. Myanmar did not attend the Cambodia meetings and ASEAN’s special envoy will now re-engage with key Myanmar representatives.

“New Zealand remains committed to our one China policy. I expressed concern over the increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait, called for restraint and encouraged de-escalation and the peaceful resolution of Cross Strait issues. We are deeply concerned at recent actions that increase the risk of miscalculation, including the launching of ballistic missiles by China.

“We urge major powers in the region to deliberate carefully and take a long-term perspective to ensure we can build and maintain a peaceful and stable regional order for future generations.

“I also articulated the need to recognise the perspective of Pacific nations in Indo-Pacific decisions, especially the need for meaningful climate action in regional agreements. Pacific leaders have now reaffirmed climate change as the single greatest security threat in our region with the adoption of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.

“There are opportunities to enhance future cooperation including strengthening connections between ASEAN and the Pacific Island Forum.

“I reiterated Aotearoa New Zealand’s strong condemnation of Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and noted our ongoing support for Ukraine.

“There is immense value in discussions kanohi ki te kanohi on the regional strategic agenda. I valued the chance to reconnect with my Ministerial counterparts for the first in-person ASEAN meeting since 2019, and underscored our commitment to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region with ASEAN at its centre,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

During the week, the Minister held bilateral engagements with:

  • Brunei Darussalam Second Foreign Minister Dato Seri Erywan
  • Cambodia Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn
  • China State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi
  • European Union High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell
  • Lao PDR Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith
  • Indonesia Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
  • Republic of Korea Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin
  • Timor-Leste Minister of Foreign Affairs Adaljiza Albertina Xavier Reis Magno
  • Republic of Türkiye Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu
  • Viet Nam Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn

The Minister has now arrived in Kuala Lumpur for a visit marking 65 years of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Malaysia.

“The objective is to support reconnections, to promote open markets and trade recovery, with a particular focus on tourism and education links.

“Malaysia is also an important security partner as a fellow member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements. We share a commitment to deal with threats of transnational crime in the region, like cybersecurity, drug smuggling and people trafficking,” said Nanaia Mahuta.