Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has officially congratulated New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.
On his first day back at work on Monday from a medical evacuation in New Zealand, Tuilaepa, who has been the Prime Minister of Samoa for more than 16 years, wrote to offer his congratulations to the Labour Leader who has taken over the reigns from former P.M, Leulua’iali’i-o-tumua Bill English.
In a letter dated 23 October 2017, Tuilaepa expressed delight at Ardern’s victory.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Samoa, I wish to warmly congratulate you on your appointment as the new Prime Minister of New Zealand,” Tuilaepa writes.
“New Zealand and Samoa have enjoyed warm relations in various areas of mutual interest and I look forward to working with you to further strengthen the ties between our two countries and people.”
Tuilaepa also highlighted New Zealand’s critical role in the Pacific Islands Forum, of which he is the Chairman.
“Similarly, I look forward to our close collaboration on issues of importance to our Pacific region and cooperation arrangements among Pacific Forum countries,” Tuilaepa added.
“Please accept my best wishes for your personal well-being and the success of your government.”
In writing to Ardern, Tuilaepa has joined a host of world leaders to offer their congratulations to one of the youngest world leaders at 37.
At the beginning of the week, Ardern took a call from US President Donald Trump offering his congratulations after her electoral victory.
The pair planned to talk further on New Zealand's role in the Asia Pacific region and a commitment to a strong relationship with the United States.
Ardern became New Zealand’s Prime Minister-elect last week after Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters turned his back on a New Zealand First and National coalition.
Interestingly enough, a leading American newspaper has linked Ardern in a controversial line-up of far right leaders dubbed the offspring of Donald Trump.
In an article examining newly appointed world leaders, U.S.A. Today said the Trump influence is spreading across the globe.
It said countries were being influenced by the unconventional American political leader and at least two countries - the Philippines and the Czech Republic - had elected leaders identical to Trump.
Those critiqued included New Zealand Prime Minister-elect Jacinda Ardern, French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, Netherlands' far-right leader Geert Wilders, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Bulgarian politician Veselin Mareshki who founded an anti-immigration party.
U.S.A. Today said the global "political offspring of President Trump" all emulated key characteristics including being wealthy, controversial, outspoken and skilled at delivering electoral upsets by appealing to voters' nativist instincts on immigration, Islam, trade, jobs and law and order.
It lumped Ardern with the likes of Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who is known for his brutal war on drugs that have led to widespread killings by police.
In assessing Ardern's supposed Trump-like characteristics it cited her strong stance on immigration. It did note her position scrapping tax cuts and championing the welfare state.
The article referred to a tweet last month by the Wall Street Journal dubbing Ardern as "New Zealand's Justin Trudeau [Prime Minister of Canada] - except she's more like Trump on immigration".At the time Ardern said she found it "offensive" to be compared to Trump.
The latest critique comes as Ardern prepares to meet Trump at next week's Apec summit in Vietnam.
Back in New Zealand, Ardern and Vaovasa Peters signed a coalition agreement in Parliament's legislative chamber, before standing side-by-side to take media questions for the first time together.
"Today represents a huge step change in the future of the New Zealand Government. Today we have established the beginnings of a strong, proactive Government," Ardern said.
"We have prioritised regional economic development and job creation for New Zealanders. There has been a period of neglect in the last nine years for our regions.
"New Zealand First has brought enormous advocacy at the negotiating table to make sure we see the beginnings of the reinvestment that is needed.
"You will see a reduction in inequalities... around investing in health, investing in education and significant increases in the minimum wage.
"And, finally, you will see real progress on environmental issues. Particularly water quality and climate change."