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Visit By Italian Foreign Minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Phil Goff welcomes the visit to New Zealand by Italian Foreign Minister Dr Lamberto Dini, a former Italian Prime Minister.

Dr Dini arrives in Wellington on Wednesday (7 February).

"I am delighted Dr Dini is coming to New Zealand. There is a longstanding and on-going contact between the people of the two countries. Most recently the Italian crew of Prada returned to Auckland. They are very popular here and continue to serve as ambassadors for Italy as they prepare for the next America's Cup.

"Italian peacekeepers worked alongside New Zealanders as part of the original deployment in East Timor. New Zealand also worked closely on Antarctica with Italy which operates its programme out of Christchurch," said Mr Goff.

Mr Goff said Italy is a very influential member of the European Union, the world's fifth largest economy, and has proved to be sympathetic on EU access issues of importance to New Zealand. Italy is New Zealand's third largest market in Europe.

"The former members of the 28th Maori Battalion who returned to Italy in 1999 also have close links, and there is New Zealand's vibrant Italian community which has added so much to life here, " said the Minister.

During his visit, Dr Dini will meet with the Prime Minister Helen Clark, Minister of Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton and Mr Goff.

As a distinguished economist Dr Dini will meet with the Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash and will also hold discussions on the upcoming Versace exhibition at Te Papa. He leaves for Australia on Thursday.

ENDS

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