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“Pacific family committed to enhancing relations with India”: New Zealand Dy PM

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters (Photo: ANI)

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who was on an official visit to India, said on Wednesday that the Pacific community is committed to enhancing ties with India, adding that relationship is already getting stronger.

“We are here today celebrating the Pacific with our friends from the Pacific community and India. Our Pacific family is committed to enhancing relations with India. And the presence of our Pacific friends here in New Delhi is only getting stronger with the Solomon Islands having set up a High Commission in New Delhi in March of last year,” he said, addressing an event titled ‘Pacific Night 2024′ in Delhi.

“It gives one great pleasure to see the steady steps that are being taken and continue to be taken to bring India and our part of the world closer together. Earlier this evening, we had the chance to brainstorm on ways we can build on connectivity between India and the Pacific. And it’s inspiring and exciting to comprehend the enormous potential of that endeavour,” he added.

FM Peters also described details of his meeting with the External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar and said he discussed the opening of direct flight between New Zealand and India, adding that this will be the most impactful boost to the future of both countries.

“We had very fruitful meeting with Dr. S Jaishankar and we look forward to certain things happening very fast, such as direct air services between New Zealand and India. When it happens, this will perhaps be the most immediate, visual, impactful boost to that future that we all envisage. India’s connection with the Pacific goes back, as I said, several centuries ago, and through the thriving and successful Indian diaspora in the region, those connections are renewed and refreshed,” he said.

On Wednesday, Peters concluded a successful tour of India, describing it as an essential step in advancing the two countries’ relationship to the next level.

He also met Indian business leaders in New Delhi and Gujarat. Moreover, Peters also visited the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat and met with representatives of the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi.

During the visit, an enhanced Air Services Agreement between India and New Zealand came into force – making code sharing on services between New Zealand and India easier.

In Gujarat, Peters also met with Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel and other key members of the state’s government.

New Zealand’s Deputy PM was on an official visit to India from March 10 to 13 at the invitation of External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar.

Winston Peters was on his first visit to India after the new government in New Zealand assumed office in November 2023. He had earlier visited India in February 2020, according to MEA.