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Chilean President to visit New Zealand

Chilean President to visit New Zealand

The President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, will arrive in New Zealand on Sunday for a three-day state visit, Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today.

“New Zealand’s diplomatic presence in Chile is its longest standing in Latin America,” Helen Clark said. “The New Zealand embassy in Santiago opened in 1972, and Chile also opened its embassy in Wellington that year.

“The bilateral relationship has been strengthened in recent years through regular contact at both official and ministerial levels. I have visited Chile twice as Prime Minister, and next week’s visit to New Zealand will be President Lagos’ second since winning the presidency in 2000.

“Our two countries work together very closely in many international fora, including the United Nations, APEC, the World Trade Organisation, and the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries.

President Lagos has played a key role in the promotion and protection of democracy and human rights in Chile. I have also come to know him well through our common membership of the Progressive Governance Group, started by President Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“In recent years, as part of the government’s Latin America Strategy, the relationship between New Zealand and Chile has been stepped up considerably. A Working Holiday Scheme for young people is now in operation, and there have been important scientific and education initiatives. An agreement signed in 1993 has enabled greater collaboration between New Zealand and Chile’s Antarctic programmes. Minister of Education Trevor Mallard is this month leading a delegation of education representatives to Latin America, including Chile.

“Chile is this year’s APEC host and this visit gives us a good opportunity to review APEC’s priorities and initiatives for the year.

“New Zealand and Chile also have a well established commercial relationship. Some of New Zealand’s largest companies have been investors in Chile, and Fonterra still has a strong presence there.”

President Lagos will be in New Zealand from Sunday May 2 until Tuesday May 4, visiting both Auckland and Wellington. He will be accompanied by Chile’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, and Finance.

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