Mahuta: No 'messaging' in Rainbow Room Solomons meeting

Source: 1News

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta says there was no subliminal messaging over the venue for a bilateral talk with her Solomon Islands counterpart today.

Mahuta met with Jeremiah Manele in Parliament’s Rainbow Room, which celebrates NZ’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities and MPs.

Homosexuality is illegal in the Solomon Islands, and while rarely enforced, is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Mahuta said there was no ulterior motive in the meeting location - it was just an available room.

She said New Zealand "wanted to make sure we could use other venues that are a little more diverse in terms of hosting a meeting".

"There was no specific undertone or messaging in that."

Manele was asked about the meeting location and the law.

Parliament's Rainbow Room

"Solomon Islands is a young democracy and these are emerging issues we will continue to face and we will continue to see how best we can address (them) within the context of not only our culture but also our constitution which sets out rights and freedoms," he said.

Meanwhile Manele said his country won’t chose sides between the US and China amid an ongoing power struggle in the Pacific.

The Solomons, along with other Pacific island nations agreed to a US-Pacific declaration during a historic summit at the White House last week.

That’s despite the Solomons catching NZ’s government by surprise earlier this year by signing a security deal with China.