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PM leads NZ delegation to East Timor

13 May 2002 Media Statement

PM leads NZ delegation to East Timor independence celebrations


Prime Minister Helen Clark will head the New Zealand delegation visiting East Timor this weekend for that country’s independence ceremonies.

The New Zealand delegation will include Linda and Charlie Manning, the parents of slain New Zealand soldier Private Leonard Manning; the Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal Bruce Ferguson; and representatives of government agencies and non-governmental organisations involved in East Timor.

Helen Clark said the event will be a celebration befitting the birth of a new nation.

“It has been a long struggle for the East Timorese people in their struggle for the right to self-determination as an independent state. Sunday night’s independence celebrations will be a milestone as the country ventures down the path to nationhood.

“We must not forget the many East Timorese who died, and the many more who suffered in that country’s long struggle to independence.”

The New Zealand delegation leaves on Saturday for the celebrations in Dili on Sunday evening. East Timor will become independent at midnight on Sunday 19 May.

Helen Clark will also visit the New Zealand forces stationed at Suai as part of the United Nations peace-keeping forces in East Timor.

The party returns to New Zealand on Tuesday.


ENDS


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