The Paris Climate Change agreement, global trade, New Zealand’s contribution to Afghanistan and regional security are likely to be on the agenda as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to arrive in New Zealand on Tuesday.
Tillerson is slated to meet with Prime Minister Bill English and Minister for Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee in Wellington on Tuesday, with New Zealand aiming to strengthen and promote economic ties with its third-largest individual trading partner.
“We share a deep interest in maintaining peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region and we have worked closely together to counter terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Brownlee said ahead of the visit.
It comes as defense officials wrap up the 16th Asia Security Summit — also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue — a meeting of ministers and delegates from over 50 countries to examine the region’s most enduring security challenges.
“The U.S. have got a very important leadership role in the Asia Pacific region,” New Zealand’s defense minister, Mark Mitchell, told CNBC.
“Actions speak louder than words, and the amount of resources that they’re actually dedicating and positioning to come into the area speaks very clearly to the intent that they are going to have a very strong leadership role.”
Defense officials have used the Shangri-La Dialogue to urge greater regional security corporation, in another effort to curb the rise of Islamic extremism in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack.
“There is a strong commitment between all of the nation’s participating, including the U.K., that we recognize and understand that terrorism is at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” said Mitchell.
“The problem with the terrorism and the ideology that we’re dealing with is that it has the ability to morph and change and spring up in different parts of the world.
“Everyone has recommitted and is showing resolve to actually deal with this terrible, tainted, corrupted ideology,” he added.
According to Mitchell, the biggest threat is militant group Islamic State and “returning foreign fighters, existing groups that are starting now to grow and trying to develop a caliphate.”
“I think this is a very big focus for all of us in the region to make sure that we don’t allow them to get this foothold.”
After a major review of its security and intelligence legislation, New Zealand policymakers recently moved to strengthen rules regarding returning foreign fighters.