Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin reject the notion that their age and gender are reasons for meeting

Finnish PM says he met Ardern in New Zealand because they are both 'prime ministers' after reporters asked if it was because they were the same age and sex

The prime ministers of Finland and New Zealand have responded to suggestions that their first face-to-face meetings in New Zealand happened because they were both young female leaders.

"We met because we are prime minister," Finland's Sanna Marin said at a joint news conference at Government House Auckland early Wednesday, after a journalist said some people might have thought they met because they had the same demographic. Responding to the suggestion, Ardern said, "I wonder if anyone has ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they are the same age."

"We do, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics - that's a reality - because two women meet, not just because of their gender," Ardern said.

She added that both were focused on their responsibility, as women leaders, to women in countries that are facing "dire circumstances, where we see the most basic human rights suppressed and violated". Ardern cited Iran specifically as a "good example" of that dire state.

Marin said they both wanted to stand together on equality "to ensure every woman and girl around the world will have the same rights and the same opportunities as men".

Marin is in New Zealand for her first official tour, marking the Finnish prime minister's first visit to the country. Following a bilateral meeting on Wednesday morning, the two leaders affirmed the warm ties between New Zealand and Finland and their commitment to increasing trade opportunities, tackling climate change and deepening ties.

Ardern said: "Our countries are aligned on issues that really matter - we share a strong commitment to democratic values ​​as the basis for an open, tolerant, resilient, equal society and multilateralism and a rules-based order that has underpinned peace." and global prosperity since 1945.”

That rules-based order was under global pressure, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Ardern said.

“The conflict, I realized, is literally at Finland's doorstep,” Ardern said, “and I appreciate the prime minister's insightful perspective on the war, and of course, the lasting impact it may have on Europe and global security.”

Marin said it was a "special request" to visit New Zealand and he hoped his visit would take the "already excellent relationship to the next level".

Marin left New Zealand for Australia on Thursday.

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