„Pacific family committed to improving ties with India”: New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who is on an official visit to India, said on Wednesday that the Pacific Community is committed to improving relations with India and that ties are already strengthening.

„We are here today celebrating the Pacific with the Pacific community and our friends from India. Our Pacific family is committed to improving relations with India. With the establishment of the Solomon Islands High Commission in New Delhi in March last year, the presence of our Pacific friends in New Delhi is further strengthened,” he said in Delhi. He was addressing an event titled 'Pacific Night 2024'.

“It is heartening to see the steady steps being taken to bring India and our part of the world closer together. This evening, we had an opportunity to think about ways to create connectivity between India and the Pacific. And it's inspiring and exciting to understand the enormous potential of that effort,” he added.

FM Peters also recounted the details of his meeting with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar and said they discussed opening a direct flight between New Zealand and India, which he said would have a huge impact on the future of both countries.

„We had a very fruitful meeting with Dr. S Jaishankar and we expect some things like direct flights between New Zealand and India to happen very quickly. When that happens, it will be a very immediate, visual, impactful boost to that future we all hope for. With the Pacific India's connection, as I said, goes back centuries, and through the flourishing and successful Indian diaspora in the region, those links are renewed and renewed,” he said.

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On Wednesday, Peters concluded a successful tour of India, describing it as an essential step to take the two countries' relationship to the next level.

He also met Indian businessmen in New Delhi and Gujarat. Peters also visited the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar, Gujarat and met representatives of the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi.

During this visit, the Enhanced Air Services Agreement between India and New Zealand came into effect – facilitating code sharing on services between New Zealand and India.

In Gujarat, Peters also met Chief Minister Bhupendrabai Patel and key members of the state government.

At the invitation of External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, the New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister was on an official visit to India from March 10 to 13.

Winston Peters made his first visit to India in November 2023 after the new government took office in New Zealand. Earlier he visited India in February 2020, MEA said.

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