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PM Announces Initiatives In Relations With Korea

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that New Zealand was establishing a Prime Minister's Fellowship programme with South Korea.

The programme will provide for a visit to New Zealand each year by a selected member of the South Korea's parliament. A similar programme for Japan has been highly successful.

The Prime Minister also witnessed the signing of an extradition treaty between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea during her meeting with South Korea President Kim Dae-jung in Seoul today.

Helen Clark also announced that New Zealand is donating NZ$200,000 to UNICEF for its work in North Korea.

Prime Minister's Fellowship programme
Helen Clark said the Prime Minister's Fellowship programme involved the expansion of a scheme that has been running with Japan since 1990.

"Each year, the New Zealand Government will invite a member of the South Korean Parliament to visit New Zealand to familiarise themselves with our country.

"The Fellow will meet with senior politicians, and business and community leaders, and get a taste of New Zealand life.

"The fellowship programme with Japan has been very successful over the past decade. By expanding it to South Korea, we hope to build a core of South Korean parliamentarians who share close, warm links with New Zealand."

Extradition Treaty
Helen Clark said the extradition treaty will strengthen the ability of both countries to combat crime.

"New Zealand firmly believes more effective international co-operation is essential to meet the challenges of 21st century crime, which increasingly has transnational dimensions.

"It is in the interests of all countries that people who commit crimes are brought to justice."

Until now New Zealand has not had a formal extradition relationship with Korea. The new treaty, which will come into force as soon as both countries have completed their respective implementation processes, allows extradition for offences that carry maximum penalties of one year's imprisonment or more.

The extradition treaty complements a 1999 treaty with Korea that provides for the two countries to give other forms of assistance in criminal investigations and proceedings, such as gathering evidence and the recovery of the proceeds of crime.

Aid
Helen Clark said the assistance for North Korea through UNICEF follows a series of natural disasters in that country including floods and landslides, hail damage to crops, wave damage to costal areas, and prolonged drought.

"These disasters have exacerbated the effects of deepening economic crisis during the past decade and have had a serious effect on the education infrastructure."

The New Zealand grant will assist UNICEF in its Education 2001 Project.

"In spite of concerted reliefs efforts by the international community and United Nations agencies, a number of areas still requires major attention, including the provision of basic materials for schools, and the training of teachers," Helen Clark said.


Ends

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