The Minister for Home Affairs Pio Tikoduadua, together with his New Zealand Counterpart Andrew Little, signed the Status of Force Agreement (SOFA) and the Statement of Intent yesterday.
The agreement strengthens defence ties between Fiji and New Zealand, and outlines the priority areas for defence cooperation between the two countries – this also includes training, maritime security and disaster and humanitarian response coordination.
Speaking to the media, New Zealand’s Minister for Defence Andrew Little indicated that SOFA is a legal framework for New Zealand Defence Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, for closer cooperation within each other’s territories.
He indicated that climate change will be one of the most significant challenges of our lifetime, and the need to work together to mitigate its effects, will increase in the coming years.
“The Status of Force Agreement reflects the value New Zealand places on its relationship with Fiji, and it is vital for the two militaries to work together effectively, especially during exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.”
“This is another milestone in our defence relationship, and I look forward to seeing our connections deepen, as we continue to work in partnership in our region, stronger together,” Little added.
Also, Tikoduadua thanked the NZ military for its continuous support over the years and indicated that the agreement further strengthens and re-enforces the relationship between the two countries.
“New Zealand has always been here during our times of need, particularly during disasters that have stricken us by way of cyclones or other areas. In a small way we have tried to reciprocate, after Cyclone Gabriel, and I’m glad that Fiji has been able to reciprocate with the RFMF,” Tikoduadua added.