Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta visits Afghan refugees in Qatar, travels to United States

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Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has arrived in the United States, after visiting a refugee centre for Afghans fleeing Taliban rule during a brief stop in Qatar.

The Government has continued to try to evacuate some 900 Afghans who have been granted visas to live in New Zealand. As of last week, 630 New Zealand citizens, residents, and Afghan visa holders had reached New Zealand since the Taliban claimed control of the country in August.

Mahuta visited Doha on Sunday, meeting and thanking Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, for his country’s assistance in flying people out of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Mahuta also visited a compound being used to house refugees from Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta meeting Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, Qatar, at the weekend.


Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta meeting Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Doha, Qatar, at the weekend.

* Government appoints special representative for Afghanistan, as more evacuees reach New Zealand
* Route out of Afghanistan remains uncertain as allied countries meet without NZ
* First commercial flight since US withdrawal departs from Afghanistan, transporting 200 foreigners

“Doha has been a vital lifeline as we have worked to bring these people out of Afghanistan and through to New Zealand, and we are sincerely grateful,” Mahuta said, in a statement issued on Sunday.

Another 130 people were expected to arrive in New Zealand from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, many assisted by Qatar.

Mahuta visited the country with the Government’s newly-appointed special representative for Afghanistan, Ambassador Matthew Hawkins, who is currently ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

The stop in Doha came amid Mahuta’s first international trip as foreign minister. Since November 11, she has visited Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Indonesia, Mahuta met with President Joko Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and ASEAN secretary-general Lim Jock Hoi. She gave a speech warning of “rising nationalism” in the region, and said “trusted friends” were needed as geopolitical competition increased in the Asia-Pacific.

“We have entered an era of formidable environmental, health and geopolitical difficulties, with fewer certainties and greater risks,” she said.

While in Dubai, UAE, she attended the opening of New Zealand’s Te Aratini Festival of Indigenous and Tribal Ideas, being held as part of the country’s exhibition at the Expo 2020 – a major world exhibition. She also met UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“Te Aratini … provided a unique platform for rich discussions drawing on indigenous perspectives to consider the benefits of culture, commerce, and wellbeing.

“Sheikh Abdullah and I discussed opportunities to further grow our cooperation, particularly in the areas of food security and trade facilitation.”

Mahuta arrived in the United States on Sunday, and will meet her counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken. She will then travel to Canada on November 23.