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Goff to visit Europe, United Nations

Goff to visit Europe, United Nations

Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves tomorrow to visit the Netherlands, France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and attend the United Nations in New York

Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves tomorrow to visit the Netherlands, France, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and attend the United Nations in New York.

In the Netherlands, Mr Goff will conduct New Zealand's twice-yearly consultations with the European Union Presidency. He will then become the first New Zealand Foreign Minister to visit the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which recently joined the EU.

At the UN, Mr Goff will deliver New Zealand's General Debate statement to the General Assembly during the opening week of the 59th Session.

"Regular consultations with the EU provide New Zealand with the opportunity to have our voice heard at the highest levels within the Union," Mr Goff said.

"The EU is an important partner - it is one of New Zealand's largest export markets and is a major source of investment for New Zealand. It is also an increasingly influential player on the world stage, with the Union now expanded to encompass 25 states.

"Maintaining our influence in the EU involves regular contact with old friends like France and the Netherlands, as well as raising New Zealand's profile among new members like the Baltic states. It is important that the new states involved in decision-making are aware of our interests and perspectives."

Mr Goff said that a year on from the start of the Iraq crisis, the role of multilateralism was likely to be at the centre of the UN General Assembly debate.

"The UN Secretary General has appointed a High Level Panel to look at current threats and challenges to international security, and to recommend policy and institutional changes to improve the UN's credibility and responsiveness.

"My statement will reaffirm New Zealand's commitment to the UN, and outline our approach to proposals to reform the UN to ensure its on-going relevance.

"I will also address issues such as peacekeeping and peace-building; the protection of UN staff, and issues of direct concern to the Pacific region - in particular the challenges faced by small islands developing states."

Mr Goff will also have a series of meetings with other Foreign Ministers, the Chair of the High Level Panel, and senior members of the United Nations Secretariat. He will also attend a meeting of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers.

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