British foreign minister James Cleverly has skipped a planned trip to Samoa to focus on coordinating the UK response to the Sudan crisis, which he is doing from New Zealand, his office said on Thursday.
Cleverly had been scheduled to meet Samoan officials and New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in Samoa but has instead arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, after his other meetings in the Pacific region.
“The situation in Sudan means he has decided to come straight here, where the British have a larger and better equipped High Commission, with more reliable, stable and secure communications, allowing him to more easily co-ordinate the UK’s response to events in the African state,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
Fighting has erupted across Khartoum and at other sites in Sudan this month in a battle between two powerful rival military factions.
Cleverly last week called on the Sudanese leadership to restrain troops and de-escalate, and on Wednesday he said he had discussed with the foreign ministers of Egypt and UAE how they could work together to resolve the conflict.
“The bloodshed in Sudan cannot continue,” he said on Twitter. “The UK calls for an immediate end to the fighting and a lasting ceasefire.”
International powers have been struggling to evacuate citizens after the airport and several districts housing embassies were caught up in the violence.
A new attempt at a ceasefire in fierce fighting in Khartoum failed on Wednesday, leaving people fearful about dwindling food supplies and a breakdown in medical services.
The key parts of Cleverly’s programme in New Zealand would go ahead as planned, his office added.