New Zealand discussing military cooperation with Fiji

Wellington, June 30 (IANS) New Zealand’s top military commander is visiting Fiji to see how the two countries can work together in the Pacific.

The Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, who arrived in Fiji on Thursday on his two-day, would hold talks with his counterpart, Commander Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The visit is an opportunity for me to hear first hand what Fiji’s defence priorities are and to discuss defence and security cooperation opportunities,” Keating said in a statement on Thursday.

“I will also be interested to hear how Fiji’s recovery and rebuild is progressing following the devastating Tropical Cyclone Winston.”

The New Zealand Defence Force was heavily involved in the response to the cyclone in February, sending its biggest peacetime deployment to the Pacific island nation, involving ships, aircraft and more than 500 personnel to help with the response effort.

The cyclone killed at least 42 people.

During his visit, Keating will also meet government ministers, including Minister of Defence, National Security and Immigration Timoci Natuva.

Keating is the latest high-ranking New Zealand official to visit the Fiji since it ended eight years of military government in 2014.

Earlier this month, John Key became the first New Zealand Prime Minister to visit the island nation in 10 years and held talks with his Fijian counterpart, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama.



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