New Delhi, October 6
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on the New Zealand Government to renew visas for students in order to enable them complete their courses.
Meets PM Ardern
Pleasure to call on PM Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand. Conveyed the personal greetings of PM Narendra Modi. Discussed deepening our bilateral cooperation through focused engagement in areas of strength. S Jaishankar, EAM
He said better access for Indian students to New Zealand, and a better treatment of them by immigration New Zealand, would only strengthen those bonds.
Like China, New Zealand has been reluctant to renew visas of Indian students who had returned home due to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
The first foreign minister to visit New Zealand in over 20 years, Jaishankar urged a “fairer and more sympathetic treatment” for the students during a joint press conference with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in Auckland on Thursday,
Mahuta noted his concerns, but said it was a matter for Immigration Minister Michael Wood to resolve. She then went on to add, “The immigration settings have changed partly as a result of Covid. Most New Zealand-based students were required to study online during the pandemic, and could also not return to in-person classes.”
Mahuta was also not in favour of starting FTA talks with India. “A free trade agreement at this time is not a priority for New Zealand or India,” she said, adding the digital economy and green business were areas where there could be greater cooperation. “I think we have identified that there are niche areas where we can absolutely derive mutual benefit,” she said.
Jaishankar said they had discussed other areas for economic collaboration, but agreed that an FTA was not on the agenda. “Perhaps the best way of pursuing economic opportunities right now is to encourage more business collaborations,” he said. Jaishankar was welcomed to Auckland with a powhiri at the War Memorial Museum on Thursday. He would stay in the country until next week, with plans to visit local Indian communities and open a new High Commission in Wellington.
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