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Pacific focus for Foreign Minister talks

Pacific focus for Foreign Minister talks

Pacific issues will be a feature of the Australia-New Zealand Foreign Ministers’ Talks at Portage in the Marlborough Sounds this weekend.

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said discussions with his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, would cover the Solomon Islands Regional Assistance Mission and the Pacific Forum Review.

“As the focus of the Solomons’ mission shifts from restoring law and order to rebuilding government institutions, this will be a timely opportunity to consider how we can build on the excellent progress made to date,” Mr Goff said.

“We will also discuss the early work of the Eminent Persons’ Group which has been consulting with Pacific leaders on the review of the Pacific Islands Forum.

“Australia and New Zealand share common interests in restoring stability to Pacific nations experiencing difficulties, and in strengthening regional institutions like the Forum.

“We will also consider ways we can build on the existing high level of cooperation between our countries to combat the threat of terrorism, both regionally and internationally.

"The 20th anniversary of the CER Agreement this year has refocused attention on all aspects of the relationship on both sides of the Tasman.

"Mr Downer and I will take the opportunity to review initiatives aimed at moving the relationship forward, including plans for a joint Leadership Forum involving senior businesspeople, union leaders, academics, and other leaders from both countries," Mr Goff said.

Other topics to be covered include Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Nigeria, and the progress of Australia’s Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United States.

Mr Goff said it was particularly appropriate to be hosting Mr Downer this weekend for the six-monthly talks as the Australian High Commission in Wellington would be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of its opening on December 15.

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