RNZ in Paris, April 16, 2018
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has arrived in Paris and will kick off her week-long trip to Europe with a formal meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two leaders will meet for the first time overnight on Monday (NZT) at Elysee Palace.
Ahead of the trip, Ms Ardern said a free trade deal with the European Union (EU) would be on top of her agenda, but the recent military action in Syria may dominate discussions.
Support for US and Allies
Over the weekend, she effectively endorsed the United States, the United Kingdom and France in bombing multiple government targets in Syria.
“We accept why the US and others have taken the military action that they have. Our view is though now is the time to return to the table – to the UN to resolve these issues,” she said.
Russia has since tried and failed to get the UN Security Council to condemn the strikes.
The meeting comes roughly a month before the EU member states decide whether to greenlight negotiations for a trade deal with New Zealand.
FTA talks to begin
Talks were expected to begin late last year, but the EU has yet to give the go-ahead. Some countries – including France – are said to have concerns about agriculture.
“What has been suggested is that the barriers to New Zealand having that negotiating mandate are issues around sustainability and agriculture. Our view is that’s what a negotiation is for. Those are things we can resolve once we’re sitting around the table, so our goal is to get those started,” Ms Ardern said.
She will be seeking “some real leadership” to demonstrate that multilateral trade agreements and fair rules are important for both NZ and the EU, she said.
“We are one of just a handful of WTO [World Trade Organisation] members who do not have either the beginning of a negotiation or an agreement,” Ms Ardern said.
Climate Change discussion
She will also discuss climate change with Mr Macron and later in the day, deliver a keynote speech on the subject at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
The Labour leader is then scheduled to travel to Berlin to meet German chancellor Angela Merkel, before flying on to London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting.
She will also sit down with UK Prime Minister Theresa May and have a private meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
Indian Newslink has published the above Report and Picture under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz
Jacinda Ardern Picture by VNP-Phil Smith