10 Jul 2009

NZ foreign minister embarks on four-nation Pacific trip

4:58 pm on 10 July 2009

New Zealand's foreign minister, Murray McCully, is about to leave for a week-long four-nation Pacific trip.

He will meet ministers, political leaders and senior officials in Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Samoa.

Mr McCully says discussions will cover a number of regional matters, including key issues for next month's Pacific Islands Leaders Forum summit in Cairns, and the impact of the global economic crisis on the Pacific.

Environmental issues will also be on the agenda, especially in Kiribati and Tuvalu, where Mr McCully says the respective governments face considerable social and economic challenges as a result of climate change.

The foreign minister says he will also be outlining the government's recent decisions to place greater emphasis on the region and to focus more on supporting sustainable economic development.

His trip comes just days after the New Zealand prime minister, John Key, visited Tonga and Samoa.

It also coincides with a trip of Australia's parliamentary secretary for Pacific Island affairs, Duncan Kerr, who is touring the five Micronesian countries and Tuvalu ahead of the Cairns Forum.