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English trip to build NZ/Australia relations

English trip to build NZ/Australia relations

National Leader Bill English is determined to help warm the relationship with Australia during his upcoming visit and meetings with Prime Minister John Howard.

“We’ve drifted apart from our nearest neighbour in recent years, and I hope to do what I can to help bring us closer together,” says Mr English.

Mr English leaves for a two-day trip, that he’s initiated, on Sunday November 10, leading a team of National MP’s who’ll have discussions with their counterparts in Australia.

He’ll have a one on one meeting with John Howard and there’ll be top-level meetings with a string of other ministers, officials and businesspeople.

“It’ll be a great opportunity for the National to take a close up look at Australian policy development with a particular focus on defence and security.

“After the recent bombing in Bali, on our own back doorstep, the issue of security has become that much more important to all of us in the Asia Pacific region.”

Mr English will speak with Australia’s Finance, Foreign Affairs, Trade, Defence, Agriculture, Health and Employment Ministers.

He’ll also visit the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra and the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney.

“Unlike the Labour Government, National believes our foreign policy can’t be divided up into separate boxes as Helen Clark has claimed.

“We shouldn’t expect a good deal on trade when there are questions about whether we can honour our regional defence commitments.

“Australia and New Zealand share a fairly similar outlook on the world, it’s crucial we maintain a good relationship,” says Mr English.

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