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Goff to attend Lindh funeral

Goff to attend Lindh funeral

Foreign Minister Phil Goff is to attend the funeral of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh in Stockholm tonight (NZT).

Mr Goff arrived in Rome on Thursday to meet Italian counterpart Franco Frattini for New Zealand's six-monthly consultations with the European Union Presidency, currently held by Italy.

"I have accepted an offer to join Mr Frattini's flight to Stockholm for the funeral of Anna Lindh," Mr Goff said.

"I greatly appreciate the Mr Frattini's gesture. I had enormous respect for Anna Lindh. She was a remarkable person and our working relationship was a close and constructive one. I am pleased to be able to attend her funeral and to demonstrate the importance New Zealand places on relations with Sweden.

"The formal consultations scheduled for Rome will now be held at the Italian Ambassador's Residence in Stockholm. European Union Secretary General Javier Solana and EU Commissioner Chris Patten will take part in those discussions, with Mr Patten also joining the flight back to Rome.

"The new arrangements demonstrate not only the quality of the relationship between Italy and New Zealand, but also the importance that New Zealand and the EU Presidency place on these talks."

Mr Goff said regular consultations with the EU Presidency were a valuable way for New Zealand to register its interests with the EU's decision-makers. On the agenda for these talks will be an update on developments in the Pacific, including the outcome of the recent Forum and the situation in the Solomons, where the EU is providing assistance.

Other topics to be discussed will be the failed WTO negotiations in Cancun, the security situation on the Korean peninsula, Iraq and the Middle East.

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