ZB

Visit by top US navy official canned after crew catch Covid-19

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jun 2022, 3:55pm
US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. Photo / AP
US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. Photo / AP

Visit by top US navy official canned after crew catch Covid-19

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 19 Jun 2022, 3:55pm

A visit by the United States' top-ranking Navy official tomorrow has been cancelled after crew caught Covid-19. 

US Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro was scheduled to visit Wellington on Monday, meeting Defence Minister Peeni Henare and senior Government officials, but the US Embassy has reported members of the travelling party have caught Covid-19. 

Del Toro's visit was intended to discuss shared goals and priorities in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. 

US Ambassador Tom Udall said he wishes the delegation "a speedy recovery and hopes the visit can be rescheduled once everyone is well". 

Del Toro had previously been in Hawaii and then Fiji over June 15–16, as part of a Pacific tour to promote "security, stability, and prosperity in the Pacific". 

His travels come at a time of heightened geopolitical tension in the region, stretching back to a security deal signed between the Solomon Islands and China in March that triggered fears it was seeking to establish a military base in the Pacific. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's visit to the White House also stoked tensions with China further, her and US President Joe Biden signing a joint statement promising military co-operation and criticising China over a range of issues. 

China also sought a wide-reaching agreement with 10 nations and its foreign minister Wang Yi embarking on a regional tour, also raising questions about the strength of New Zealand's relationships coming out of Covid-19. 

That agreement was ultimately rejected by Pacific nations, with leaders including Sāmoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa saying any issue requiring the region's view should come through the Pacific Islands Forum. 

- by Michael Neilson, NZ Herald