NZ, Japan to talk Russia, China, security

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida will use their first top-level meeting to keep up pressure on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

The two leaders will also discuss shared concerns over the recent signing of a security treaty between the Solomon Islands and China.

Ardern met Kishida on Thursday in Tokyo in her first overseas trip since New Zealand reopened borders it closed early in the coronavirus pandemic.

The two leaders "will continue to raise the costs for the architects of Russia's illegal and unjustified aggression" against Ukraine, they said in a joint statement, calling for Moscow's immediate withdrawal from its neighbour's territory.

Both countries have imposed sanctions for what Russia calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Japan earlier said it would increase a loan to Ukraine threefold and provide drones and hazmat suits.

As part of strengthening security ties, New Zealand and Japan will begin negotiations on an information-sharing agreement.

"This will support ... peace, stability and security in the Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region," Ardern told reporters.

New Zealand's prime minister arrived in Tokyo late on Wednesday following a three-day visit to Singapore, where she discussed the economy and bilateral co-operation on climate change and adopting low-carbon and green technologies.

High on the agenda for her visit will be the new security pact between China and the Solomon Islands, as well as concerns about Beijing's increasing military activity in the East and South China seas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters the security pact "could affect the security in the entire Pacific region, and Japan is watching the development with concern".

"We hope to firmly discuss the issue with New Zealand in the context of achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific," he said.

Ms Ardern is also troubled by the tie-up, saying on Wednesday that New Zealand "sees no need for this agreement".

"We're concerned about the militarisation of the Pacific and we continue to call on the Solomons to work with the Pacific with any concerns around their security they may have," she said during her Singapore visit.

- with Associated Press

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