3 May 2013

Improved regional security co-operation focus for Pacific defence ministers

5:40 am on 3 May 2013

How to better co-ordinate maritime surveillance in the Pacific was one of the key issues discussed by defence ministers at the first ever regional defence summit in Tonga this week.

The New Zealand defence minister, Jonathan Coleman, says as well as defence, security matters need to include issues like climate change, transnational crime and maritime surveillance.

He says while the Navy and Air Force are already committed to increased maritime surveillance next year, a key focus of the meeting was how to best deliver the patrolling programmes.

"So a lot of this meeting was about a stocktake of what we are already doing and ensuring that efforts in the region around security are properly co-ordinated. So I wouldn't paint it as enhanced or stepping up military engagement. It is more around defence's place in a broader security context."