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Defer Middle East travel, Goff warns NZers

Defer Middle East travel, Goff warns New Zealanders

New Zealanders are advised to defer or review all travel to the Middle East given the increasing risk of conflict in Iraq, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

“New Zealanders living in Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan and Israel and the Palestinian Authority (West Bank and Gaza) should leave immediately. New Zealanders elsewhere in the Middle East should consider departing unless they have compelling reasons to stay,” Mr Goff said.

“Should hostilities escalate in the region, commercial air services to some countries are likely to be immediately suspended and there is no certainty that it will be possible for the government to assist or arrange an evacuation for New Zealanders by other means.

"In such circumstances, external communications and essential services cannot be relied upon.

"New Zealanders already within, or contemplating travel to, the Middle East are urged to heed this advice and to closely monitor the Ministry’s travel advice on its website. We urge New Zealanders in the region to register their presence with the closest New Zealand or British Embassy.”

Mr Goff also warned New Zealanders travelling in other parts of the world to be aware of the increased risk of potential terrorist action.

"The crisis in Iraq could result in violent protest action or acts of terrorism in a number of countries around the world and travellers should therefore be aware of the heightened risk to westerners and western interests. They should observe a high level of security awareness at all times," Mr Goff said.

Full travel advisories for countries potentially affected by possible conflict in Iraq can be found at http:// http://www.mfat.govt.nz

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