Peters stays mum on Trump ‘ini­tia­tive’

Waikato Times - - News - VER­NON SMALL IN MANILA

New Zealand ap­pears to have joined a mys­te­ri­ous ‘‘re­gional ini­tia­tive’’ at the re­quest of the United States, but the mat­ter is be­ing kept un­der wraps.

There have also been sug­ges­tions the ini­tia­tive could in­clude a trip to North Korea, but For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Win­ston Peters would not con­firm any­thing, say­ing: ‘‘I can’t tell you about the de­tails of it.’’

How­ever, it is un­der­stood the more likely sce­nario is a plan to ad­dress the Myan­mar cri­sis, where the sit­u­a­tion with the per­se­cuted , Ro­hingya peo­ple has con­tin­ued to es­ca­late.

The is­sue came to light af­ter US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son sought a meet­ing with Peters dur­ing the East Asia Sum­mit in the Philip­pines on Tues­day. It was the sec­ond dis­cus­sion Peters has had with Tiller­son in re­cent days in­clud­ing an in­for­mal meet­ing on the fringes of the Apec meet­ing in Viet­nam.

‘‘Tiller­son called, and he wants New Zealand to be en­gaged in some­thing and we hope to be able to tell you some­thing about it in the next few days,’’ Peters said.

It was to do with the re­gion ‘‘and ini­tia­tives com­ing in the fu­ture’’ and Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern had been ad­vised.

But asked if it re­lated to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s tweet say­ing he would be mak­ing ‘‘a ma­jor state­ment from the White House upon my re­turn to DC. Time and date to be set’’, Ardern said: ‘‘One would be un­wise to pre­dict the na­ture of any of Pres­i­dent Trump’s tweets’’.

The an­nounce­ment was made near the end of a busy day for Ardern that in­cluded the East Asia Sum­mit, where she fo­cused on re­gional se­cu­rity, par­tic­u­larly ‘‘the need for all ac­tions short of mil­i­tary ac­tion’’ when it came to North Korea.

Ardern set out New Zealand’s fo­cus on a so­lu­tion to the South China Sea dis­pute is based on in­ter­na­tional law and through con­sen­sus on a ‘‘code of con­duct’’ and also set out her po­si­tion on climate change.

‘‘I see New Zealand as play­ing a role of con­tin­u­ing to high­light that in in­ter­na­tional fo­rums where we have a voice.’’

Peters has trav­elled to North Korea in the past, and on his first day as for­eign min­is­ter he raised the is­sue, say­ing North Korea was not ‘‘an ut­terly hope­less case’’.

The sum­mit also dis­cussed Myan­mar and the cri­sis that has seen the Ro­hingya Mus­lim mi­nor­ity flee­ing vi­o­lence and killing by the army and mili­tia groups.

Ardern also had a for­mal meet­ing with the pres­i­dent of the EU Coun­cil, Don­ald Tusk, about a planned free trade agree­ment, and a meet­ing of the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship free trade na­tions.

She met In­dia’s Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and they ex­changed in­vi­ta­tions to visit.

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