Ardern faces global press-the-flesh year

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - STACEY KIRK

She has made her en­trance on the in­ter­na­tional stage but there is still an ar­ray of firsts for Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern to tick off.

This year may be seen as her first full en­try into the for­eign po­lit­i­cal cir­cuit and while she can’t do them all, here is a list of some of the in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ments Ardern might have on her radar. Meet­ing the lead­ers Bri­tain: One of our clos­est re­la­tions, and Ardern does still have to meet the Queen of New Zealand too. That’s likely to oc­cur when she at­tends the Com­mon­wealth Heads of Gov­ern­ment Meet­ing in Lon­don, in April. A bi­lat­eral talk with Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is bound to be one of many leader-to-leader meet­ings on the cards as well.

Aus­tralia: The New Zealand and Aus­tralia prime min­is­ters meet at least once ev­ery year, and it is New Zealand’s turn to travel there. While Ardern has trav­elled to Syd­ney to meet Mal­colm Turn­bull, it was an hours-long trip to en­sure the pair had met be­fore cross­ing paths again at Apec a cou­ple of weeks later.

United States: A big one, notwith­stand­ing the fact it is not en­tirely clear US Pres­i­dent Donald Trump ini­tially knew who he was meet­ing when the pair got a chance to chat briefly on the out­skirts of Apec in Viet­nam last year. But it is al­ways a lo­gis­ti­cally tough one to or­gan­ise, and so may not be fast in hap­pen­ing. If Ardern at­tends the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly in New York, then a meet­ing on the fringes could oc­cur around Septem­ber.

European Union: A trip to the European Union this year is surely high on the cards for Ardern, given a free trade deal is a pri­or­ity for both par­ties. For­mal talks were ex­pected to launch at the end of last year, and both sides ex­pect to have them con­cluded by 2021.

China: The last visit of a New Zealand leader to China was by John Key in April 2016. The re­la­tion­ship with China has al­ways been an im­por­tant one and an up­grade to the free trade agree­ment is un­der way. A visit or an in­vi­ta­tion to host Chi­nese dig­ni­taries here, is about due.

Iraq: Not a must and po­ten­tially a long­shot. But a visit to NZ troops sta­tioned in Iraq would not nec­es­sar­ily be sur­pris­ing. When Key vis­ited, it was a high-se­cu­rity visit shrouded in se­crecy. Key was ful­fill­ing a prom­ise he made that he would not put troops any­where he was not pre­pared to go him­self. The mis­sion to Iraq comes up for re­view and po­ten­tial ex­ten­sion or ex­piry in Novem­ber. She has not adopted her pre­de­ces­sor An­drew Lit­tle’s cam­paign prom­ise to with­draw troops, and may deem it nec­es­sary to go as part of her re­view. In­ter­na­tional fo­rums Apec: In Pa­pua New Guinea’s cap­i­tal of Port Moresby, around Novem­ber. The Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion sum­mit is a reg­u­lar on the prime min­is­te­rial diary.

Asean: The As­so­ci­a­tion of South East Asian Na­tions sum­mit typ­i­cally fol­lows on di­rectly after Apec and prime min­is­ters at­tend both. This year it will be held in Sin­ga­pore.

Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum: An im­por­tant one for New Zealand prime min­is­ters to at­tend, as a leader in the Pa­cific. This year’s lo­ca­tion could be con­tro­ver­sial as the tiny island of Nauru pre­pares to play host. It is the home of one of Aus­tralia’s con­tro­ver­sial de­ten­tion cen­tres for asy­lum seek­ers, which is set to close, but whose in­hab­i­tants have been the subject of a con­tentious in­vi­ta­tion to re­home them in New Zealand.

United Na­tions: The UN Gen­eral Assem­bly is a yearly event in New York, in Septem­ber. Lead­ers de­scend on Man­hat­tan and it is also a prime op­por­tu­nity for ma­jor in­ter­na­tional meet­ings to oc­cur on the fringes, how­ever the prime min­is­ter doesn’t typ­i­cally go ev­ery year. The wild­cards World Eco­nomic Fo­rum: This is held in Davos, Switzer­land, ev­ery year and Trade Min­is­ter David Parker is go­ing. The US Gov­ern­ment has just an­nounced Trump will be there. But it is not a com­mon one for the lead­ers to visit ev­ery year, and it is un­likely Ardern will at­tend with the meet­ing just two weeks away.

Antarc­tica: Al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity. As a bonus wild­card, Ardern has in­vited Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to visit New Zealand. A joint trip down to the ice could ‘‘knock two bas­tards off’’, as they say in Kiwi ice-ex­plo­ration ver­nac­u­lar.


A photo call at the Apec Sum­mit in Danang, Viet­nam, in Novem­ber 2017. Front, from left: South Korea Pres­i­dent Moon Jae In, Rus­sia Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Malaysia Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak, Mex­ico Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto. Back, from left: Sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong, New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern, Tai­wan rep­re­sen­ta­tive James Soong.

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