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New Zealand, Australia PMs meet 1st time since pandemic

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met her visiting Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Monday, marking their face-to-face meeting since the onset of the global Covid-19 pandemic last year.

They came together for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting in Queenstown, Xinhua news agency reported.

The two leaders discussed a range of issues from trade, climate change to Covid-19 response and cooperation.

“The Australia-New Zealand relationship is unique in its closeness; we are partners and allies, and we share a relationship of family, of ‘whanau’ (community).

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“Through our single economic market, our people-to-people ties, and our shared interests in the region and the world, Australia and New Zealand stand together,” said a joint statement released by the two Prime Ministers.

Ardern and Morrison agreed to continue cooperation on Covid-19 vaccines, including research and development.

The premiers undertook to support efforts to ensure the free international movement of medical goods, including vaccines and vaccine components.

They noted opportunities to collaborate on initiatives to extend travel options for Pacific neighbours when safe to do so, including through the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel zone, so as to reconnect with the wider world, the statement said.

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Ardern and Morrison agreed to sustain close and valuable cooperation on climate change, including in the Pacific and on agricultural emissions.

They reiterated their support for the multilateral trading system, and the importance of a well-functioning World Trade Organization in promoting sustainable global economic growth and prosperity, including as part of the Covid-19 recovery, it added.