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Zimbabwe high on agenda of Goff Africa Visit


Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

31 January 2002

Zimbabwe high on agenda of Goff southern Africa visit

Zimbabwe will be high on the agenda for New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff during his upcoming meetings with southern African leaders.

Mr Goff left today for a ten-day visit to South Africa, Mozambique and Botswana on which he will meet with senior South African Ministers, Mozambique’s President Joaquim Chissano and Botswana’s President Festus Mogae.

While in Botswana, Mr Goff will also have talks with Foreign Minister, Mompati Merafhe, the current Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

“All three countries are as concerned as we are about the situation in their neighbour. President Mugabe seems intent on holding on to power to the detriment of his country.

“Mugabe’s intimidation of political opponents and recent moves to restrict the freedom of the press, poses a real threat to the freedom and fairness of the forthcoming Presidential election.

“The New Zealand government has already called for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth and continues to hold that position.

“Zimbabwe will be a key focus of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Coolum, Queensland. I will also look to discuss other Commonwealth and regional issues during meetings with Ministers including the New Partnership for African Development, an initiative of particular interest to South Africa.

“South Africa’s hosting of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in late August/early September this year will also be a focus of my discussions in Pretoria.

“This landmark event will be required to tackle issues at the very heart of international concerns about the environment as well as social and economic development. Hearing the priorities of South Africa and neighbours will be most helpful as we prepare for this important meeting.

“The visit is an opportunity to strengthen New Zealand’s relationship with the three countries. We have many links with South Africa, in areas ranging from fisheries to disarmament, while two-way trade exceeded $200 million last year.

“Relations with Mozambique and Botswana are not as substantial, but my visit I hope will go some way to improving links. While in Mozambique I will also have an opportunity to view the work being undertaken by New Zealand Defence Force personnel towards the demining programme,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS


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