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PM to visit Republic of Korea

PM to visit Republic of Korea

Prime Minister Helen Clark will be visiting the Republic of Korea for three days this week.

The visit is Helen Clark’s first opportunity to meet President Roh Moo-hyun, who assumed office in February this year.

The visit is timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary commemorations of the Korean War Armistice. Defence personnel, Korean War veterans, cadets and four secondary school essay winners are accompanying the Prime Minister.

“New Zealand has important trade and political links with South Korea. It is our sixth largest trading partner and our exports there earned more than $1.3 billion last year,” Helen Clark said.

“Korean students and tourists continue to play a key role in our trade ties, with nearly 110,000 tourists and 15,000 students coming to New Zealand last year.

New Zealand’s relationship with Korea extends back to New Zealand Defence Force involvement in the Korean War (1950-1953). New Zealand sent nearly 6000 troops to Korea and 33 lost their lives in the conflict.

“I am pleased that New Zealand will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the armistice with both veterans and young people present.”

As part of her programme, the Prime Minister will visit the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, where 28 New Zealanders are buried, and attend various commemorative events.

The visit will be Helen Clark’s second to Korea as Prime Minister. Her previous visit was in May 2001.

En route to Korea, Helen Clark will join Prime Minister John Howard and other Pacific Island Forum dignitaries in Townsville to farewell personnel being deployed to the Solomon Islands.

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