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Goff to visit Afghanistan and Iran


Goff to visit Afghanistan and Iran

Foreign Minister Phil Goff will make the first New Zealand Ministerial visit to Afghanistan when he arrives there this weekend.

Mr Goff will visit Afghanistan and Iran from December 7 to 12. He will become the first current New Zealand Minister to visit Afghanistan while he will be the first New Zealand Foreign Minister to visit Iran in ten years.

“Since September 11, Afghanistan has been the focus of international efforts against terrorism. To allow Afghanistan again to degenerate into civil war and the failure of the central authority and the rule of law would once more put the world at risk of its re-emergence as a base for Al Qaeda.

“With the rest of the world, New Zealand has a vested interest in efforts to establish a stable and democratic government there. Given its history, this will be no easy task and the current interim administration is in a fragile position.

“New Zealand has played a role through Operation Enduring Freedom, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and humanitarian and development assistance.

“I will be meeting in Afghanistan with President Karzai, Foreign Minister Abdullah and Defence Minister Khan. I will also call on the Commander of the ISAF, the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and New Zealand defence force and humanitarian assistance personnel.

“These meetings will involve discussions of the current situation in Afghanistan and the role New Zealand can play towards helping achieve a positive outcome there.

“My visit to Iran has both political and trade objectives.

“Iran occupies a strategic position in the Middle East, in particular in having as its immediate neighbours, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

“Its internal political developments could have real significance for its regional and international relationships. The landslide re-election of moderate President Khatami with a 77 percent majority offers prospects for social, political and economic reform, which have so fare been stymied by ultra-conservative elements.

“Iran is a major market for New Zealand wool and butter and has the potential to grow significantly. Two-way trade represents $134 million a year.

“In Iran, calls have been sought with President Khatami, Foreign Minister Kharrazi and the Agriculture, Education and Energy Ministers. I will also be meeting with the Speaker of the Majlis (Parliament) and the Iranian/New Zealand business community.

“The visit to the region is important in security and political terms as well as economic. It offers the opportunity to meet with key figures and to develop further New Zealand’s political security, humanitarian assistance and trade relationship with the two countries,” Mr Goff said.

Itinerary

5 December: Depart Auckland for Oman 6 December: Oman 7 December: Afghanistan 8 December: Afghanistan 9 December: Iran 10 December: Iran 11 December: Iran 12 December: Depart Iran for Auckland

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