External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on October 9 said that he has urged New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta to take a sympathetic view on the difficulties faced by Indian students, who were impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Jaishankar, who is in Wellington on his first visit to New Zealand as the External Affairs Minister, said this while interacting with the Indian community during the inauguration of the new Indian High Commission Chancery in Wellington.
In respect of Indian students in Wellington, he said that they have had tough times during COVID.
"None of us had an easy time during COVID. But students perhaps took a bigger hit than most of us. So, I urged the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister to take a sympathetic view and understanding of students who enter and I was glad to be assured that they would approach the issue sympathetically," Mr. Jaishankar said.
Mr. Jaishankar said he hopes to see some progress on this issue.
India is the second largest source of international students in New Zealand pursuing higher education in various disciplines such as information technology, hospitality, science, engineering and architecture.
On Thursday, Mr. Jaishankar also raised the visa issue when he met his New Zealand counterpart Ms. Mahuta to hasten up the visa process for Indian students waiting to come to this country for their studies and also sought a "fairer and more sympathetic treatment" towards those who have been impacted by the pandemic.
He also touched upon the topic of direct air connectivity between India and New Zealand and said that it will be taken care of.
"Believe me, one trip to New Zealand, and I understand why you need this," he said.
New Zealand has approximately 2,50,000 persons of Indian origin and NRIs, a vast majority of which have made the country their permanent home.
Mr. Jaishankar also visited the Te Papa museum exhibition on Sunday in Wellington commemorating the Gallipoli campaign.
"The casualties and visuals tell their own story. We recognise our shared history even as we strive to build a better world," he tweeted.
After New Zealand, the External Affairs Minister will go to Canberra and Sydney which will be his second visit to Australia this year.