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New Zealand ready for disarmament talks

Hon Matt Robson
Minister of Corrections, Minister for Courts
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

News release

New Zealand ready for disarmament talks

23rd February 2000 Immediate release

Kofi Annan's visit to New Zealand has given a vital boost to our determination to play a key role in nuclear disarmament talks this year, Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, Matt Robson says.

Matt Robson met with the United Nations Secretary General today and will continue discussions tomorrow on how New Zealand might once again be heard on the world stage in the crucial disarmament talks which have stalled.

Kofi Annan said recently that a dangerous new nuclear arms race 'looms on the horizon'. He said the disarmament talks internationally were in a state of 'deplorable stagnation'.

"These are strong words, and we in New Zealand intend to respond," said Matt Robson.

"I will be travelling to Geneva shortly to represent New Zealand at the Conference for Disarmament. Once there I plan to meet with the other representatives of the New Agenda countries, of which New Zealand is a part. Together we are a strong body of sovereign states arguing passionately for disarmament. I would like to look at the possibility of hosting a meeting of Ministers from these countries (Ireland, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, Egypt) in New Zealand.

"One issue that I intend to discuss with other countries while in Geneva is the possibility of a nuclear weapon free Southern Hemisphere.

"If our Northern hemisphere neighbours continue to delay disarmament then we in the Southern Hemisphere need not wait.

"Let us as least declare half the planet nuclear weapons free.

"Although disarmament talks have between the US and the Russian Duma and countries like Pakistan and India have joined the nuclear race, there is hope and New Zealand once again has a central role to play. The world listened to us in 1987 when we declared ourselves nuclear free. They will listen again," said Matt Robson.


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