17 Mar 2009

NZ's Foreign Minister likely to discuss help with infrastruture during trip to Cook Islands

2:22 pm on 17 March 2009

New Zealand's Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, plans to discuss developing infrastructure during a trip to the Cook Islands.

He says the visit is one of a number he has made to the region to acquaint himself with New Zealand's regional neighbours.

One of the issues that is likely to surface during talks with the Cook Island's cabinet, is the assistance New Zealand has already offered to Samoa and Tonga in order to retain Air New Zealand service to LA:

"The Cook Islands have already singed an arrangement with Air New Zealand, they'd done that by the time the Samoan and Tongan governements had actually approached New Zealand for assistances. I was open in acknowledging that we were picking up an issue that they'd already dealt, indicating that we would be trying to do more to assist then in the coming year and we'd be having some discussionwith them about how they would best liek to be helped."

Mr McCully says they are likely to discuss the refocusing of the NZAid budget from what he says is a hand out to a hand up.

Projects where assistance could be offered include areas such as the airport, shipping and harbour facilities.

Mr McCully says he is also interested in the possibilities of microfinancing and helping people to become income earners.