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PM to visit United States

PM to visit United States

Prime Minister Helen Clark leaves on Wednesday for a short visit to the United States that will focus on tourism, trade and international affairs.

The visit stems from Tourism New Zealand’s wish to gain maximum exposure for this country from the documentary New Zealand: The Royal Tour, which premieres on the Travel Channel in the United States this Sunday, and will later screen worldwide on the Discovery Channel.

Discovery estimates the documentary, made in April this year and featuring Helen Clark as ‘tour guide’, will reach an audience of more than 70 million in the United States alone.

Helen Clark has a large number of interviews scheduled with television networks, radio stations and travel publications in New York and Los Angeles on Thursday, Friday and Saturday during which she will discuss the documentary and promote New Zealand as a tourist destination. She will meet representatives of the American tourism, trade and investment sectors at receptions in both cities.

Helen Clark will also be supporting events around The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which premiered in the United States on Thursday.

Other appointments in New York include calls on United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan; the head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Dr Hans Blix; and the UN Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Sir Kieran Prendergast.

Helen Clark said she would be addressing a lunch hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce and the Asia Society in New York.

“This is an opportunity to focus US business attention on the importance of freeing up trade as an engine for economic growth and stability in the Asia Pacific, and make the case for a free trade agreement between the United States and New Zealand.

“It is critical that we take every opportunity to push our case in the United States, as the prize is no less than a special working partnership with the world’s largest economy.

"The situation in Iraq, and the international community's response to terrorism are two key issues I will be discussing with the Secretary-General. The meeting with Dr Hans Blix will be particularly timely, since the UN Security Council will this week be considering Iraq's declaration of its holdings of weapons of mass destruction, required under UNSC resolution 1441.

“In the light of this declaration, I will be interested in how Dr Blix sees developments unfolding during the next few weeks and months.”

The Prime Minister said the screening of New Zealand: The Royal Tour was a huge opportunity for publicity for New Zealand, and she was looking forward to being part of the major promotional drive designed by Tourism New Zealand.

“Tourism New Zealand put in an enormous amount of work to get New Zealand featured in this travel documentary series. The upshot is exposure to an audience that matches our target market of affluent, predominantly independent travellers – people who want to sample the unique experiences New Zealand has to offer,” Helen Clark said.

New Zealand: The Royal Tour is the Travel Channel's second programme to bring viewers a look at a country with its leader as tour guide. The first, Jordan: The Royal Tour, premiered in April 2002 and featured a look at that country through the eyes of King Abdullah II.

Helen Clark will return to New Zealand early on Monday morning for the last Cabinet meeting of 2002.

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