New Zealand's foreign minister will attend the United Nations General Assembly before heading onto Washington for meetings on Pacific regional issues, leaving Prime Minister Chris Hipkins at home to campaign ahead of the Oct. 14 election.
Campaigning is well underway in New Zealand with the current Labour government trailing in the polls and looking likely to be replaced by centre-right National Party and their coalition.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement that she would participate in the United Nations leaders’ meetings starting this week on behalf at Hipkins and undertake a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings.
"I’m looking forward to delivering the National Statement on behalf of New Zealand and reaffirming our close relationships with friends and key partners while in the United States," Mahuta said.
She added she will then travel next week to Washington DC for a series of meetings focused on contemporary Pacific regional issues and US engagement in the Pacific.
Pacific Island countries are expected to meet with President Joe Biden next week for a second summit with the United States. Biden hosted a first summit with 14 Pacific island nations a year ago, at which his administration pledged to help stave off China's "economic coercion," and he promised to work harder with allies and partners to address islanders' needs.
"I am looking forward to having productive discussions in Washington DC to consider how the United States can help advance Pacific priorities," said Mahuta. (Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Michael Perry)