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Goff welcomes Japanese visit to North Korea

4 September 2002

Goff welcomes historic Japanese visit to North Korea

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff, has welcomed Japan’s announcement that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will visit North Korea on 17 September.

The announcement was made shortly after recent talks between officials of the two countries, which ended two years of non-communication. The visit will be the first by a Japanese Prime Minister to North Korea. Leaders of the two countries have not met since the end of Japan’s colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula in 1945.

“New Zealand strongly supports and encourages efforts to engage in constructive dialogue with North Korea.

“Japan has remained active in efforts to promote peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, including as a founding member of KEDO (the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation established in 1995 to construct light-water reactors as a source of energy for North Korea).

“Prime Minister Koizumi’s decision to travel to Pyongyang represents a further step towards constructive contact with the North Korean government.

“Contact with rather than isolation of North Korea enables dialogue on issues such as human rights and disarmament and may encourage North Korea to see itself as part of a wider international community. Such further engagement should contribute towards peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” Mr Goff said.

North Korea also recently held renewed Ministerial talks with South Korea, after a break of nine months. Further North-South talks are scheduled for October.

New Zealand established diplomatic relations with North Korea in March 2001. Since 1995 we have contributed NZ$1.4 million in humanitarian aid to development initiatives in the North. New Zealand is also a member and financial supporter of KEDO, contributing a total of NZ$4 million to the body since its establishment.

The New Zealand Ambassador to South Korea, David Taylor, is accredited to North Korea and is scheduled to travel to Pyongyang to present his credentials in late September.

Ends

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