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Goff To Visit PNG And Solomon Islands

Media Statement
Hon Phil Goff
10 March 2000


GOFF TO VISIT PNG AND SOLOMON ISLANDS

Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves on Sunday for a six-day visit to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with a view to strengthening New Zealand’s relationships in the South Pacific.

"I look forward to cementing ties with two close and very significant neighbours and also to catching up with New Zealanders serving in the Peace Monitoring Group and working with NGOs on Bougainville,” Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff will visit PNG for the second round of Foreign Ministers’ Consultations, last held in Wellington in 1998. The main themes for discussion are expected to be development on Bougainville and East Timor, PNG’s economic recovery, fisheries, trade, and development assistance.

The Minister will also visit Bougainville where a new round of talks we held this week between PNG and Bougainville leaders on the island’s political status. Mr Goff said that the outcome had not been as positive as many had hoped, but it was encouraging that the dialogue was continuing.

During his visit to the Solomons, Mr Goff will discuss economic reform and security problems arising from recent ethnic tension on the main island of Guadalcanal during meetings with Prime Minister Ulufa’ulu and other senior figures.

Incidents continue, with one police officer shot dead only yesterday. Mr Goff said he was going to Guadalcanal to learn first hand of the situation. "New Zealand is concerned about developments and has provided assistance.

"We have a direct interest in seeing a long term resolution of the ethnic conflict."

Mr Goff will also meet with the Forum Fisheries Agency, which is a pivotal regional institution engaged in the sustainable management of the region’s fisheries.

ENDS

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