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Goff to attend regional meetings, visit East Timor

Goff to attend regional meetings, visit Timor-Leste

Foreign Minister Phil Goff flies to Manila tomorrow to attend a meeting of East Asian and Latin American Foreign Ministers in Manila. He will then make a three-day visit to Timor-Leste, and attend a Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism in Bali.

The Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) was launched in 2001 to encourage closer links and cooperation between the two regions.

"FEALAC's aims are important to New Zealand, as we have significant ties with Asia and we are committed to developing closer relationships with Latin American countries through the government's Latin America Strategy," Mr Goff said.

"Our engagement with both regions, and our geographical location, makes New Zealand well placed to play a constructive role as a bridge between the two.

"FEALAC also offers an opportunity to engage with countries that we usually have limited interaction with, except perhaps in the UN context. This is especially true of many Latin American nations, and I will be hold bilateral meetings with several of my counterparts while in Manila."

Mr Goff's last trip to Timor-Leste was for independence celebrations in May 2002. This visit will include a trip to the enclave of Oecussi, the scene of some of the worst bloodshed in the lead-up to independence, and a visit to the town of Balibo where one New Zealand and four Australian journalists were killed by Indonesian forces in 1975.

While in Dili, Mr Goff will also call on President Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General.

"New Zealand has been a strong supporter of Timor-Leste since its independence, initially through peacekeeping duties and now through a variety of development projects that are supporting economic development and the establishment of democratic institutions."

Mr Goff will then join Police Minister George Hawkins in Bali for a two-day Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism, co-hosted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Dr Hassan Wirayuda and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

The meeting will look at existing regional counter-terrorism measures, regional legal arrangements, law enforcement issues, lessons learned after the Bali bombings of 2002, and ways to enhance regional cooperation.

"The Bali Ministerial offers New Zealand an important opportunity to participate in efforts to strengthen regional cooperation against terrorism," Mr Goff said.

"We will take the opportunity to talk to regional partners about the international contributions New Zealand is making in the fight against terrorism, and to outline our priorities for enhancing regional security."

ENDS

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