India, New Zealand be cooperating closely for free and open Indo-Pacific

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India and New Zealand have mutually agreed on Tuesday to have close cooperation for rules-based world order and attain a free and inclusive Indo-Pacific region amid their foreign office consultations.

The consultations resumed after a gap of two years citing the Covid-19 pandemic and was held via video conferencing. Both the countries reviewed bilateral cooperation and shifted the focus over the steps to strengthen engagement in core areas which include defence and security, trade and investment, counter-terrorism and climate change.

Both the countries further discussed regional issues and according to the readout of the External Affairs Ministry, “reiterated the importance of closer cooperation for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region”.

The officials of the two countries shared their views on managing the situation of Covid-19, and the accessibility to vaccines and medicines as per the requirement to contain the pandemic. They also spoke about strategies to enhance coordination in multilateral and regional forums and conducted a comprehensive review of bilateral cooperation. They also had a discussion about the required steps to “enhance the depth and momentum of engagement in different areas including defence and security, trade and investment, space, counterterrorism, cyber security, disarmament and climate change, and for strengthening people-to-people ties,” stated the readout.

The New Zealand delegation was headed by Mark Sinclair, deputy secretary for the Americas and Asia group in the foreign ministry, and Riva Ganguly Das, secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry led the meeting from the Indian side.

The last round of consultation was organized in New Delhi in February 2019.

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