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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good morning, everyone.  I’m so pleased to have Foreign Minister Mahuta here at the State Department in Washington.  This is, I believe, your first overseas trip as foreign minister.  We are so grateful that the United States is on the itinerary, and I think it’s very befitting, because we have a strong and deep partnership with New Zealand.  We are grateful for New Zealand’s leadership in the Pacific; that’s something that we look to.

And also I must tell you, Nanaia, the leadership that you’ve shown on COVID has been extraordinary, not just at home in New Zealand but also throughout the Pacific, the donation of vaccines, as well as the leadership that I think we’ve shown together on climate, including most recently at COP26, the Global Methane Pledge.

But we’re so grateful to have this partnership and be able to now have an opportunity to strengthen it even more on your visit.  So thank you for being here.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAHUTA:  (In Māori.)  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, and thank Secretary Blinken for his warm hospitality.  As was mentioned, this is my first trip as foreign minister overseas, and it was important to come here to the United States to reaffirm the warm bilateral relationships that we have and the interests that the U.S. has shown in the Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region.

I anticipate that the conversations that we will have will be ones of mutual interest.  As was explained, we have some common objectives in terms of climate change, but we also have some common objectives in terms of what we’ve learned from COVID-19 and how we might take forward some of the challenges around building back better, and how that applies to the Pacific.

So thank you very much, again, for hosting me.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Great to have you.  We’ve got to work.


U.S. Department of State

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