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Goff to visit Phuket, Jakarta

Goff to visit Phuket, Jakarta

Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves for Phuket tomorrow morning to meet New Zealanders engaged in tsunami relief and body identification work.

Mr Goff will fly on to Indonesia to join Prime Minister Helen Clark at Thursday's summit of international donors in Jakarta. If logistics permit, Mr Goff also hopes to fly to Aceh to visit Defence Force personnel involved in relief work there.

To date, two New Zealanders have been confirmed dead in the Phuket region while grave fears are held for 17 others who are listed as missing in the popular beach resort area.

"The first meeting in Phuket will be a briefing from members of New Zealand's Disaster Victim Identification and Emergency Response teams," Mr Goff said.

"The two teams are making an outstanding contribution to relief efforts. They are performing essential tasks in unimaginable conditions, and I want to acknowledge the government's gratitude for their work."

On Wednesday Mr Goff will visit the Phang Nga mortuary site to experience the Disaster Victim Identification team at work. He will then meet with the Thai Environment Minister, who is overseeing forensic and public health efforts.

Also on the programme is a visit to the devastated coastal township of Khao Lak, where thousands of tourists and locals have died, before meeting New Zealand staff at the international crisis centre in Phuket. Mr Goff also hopes to meet with the Thai Minister of the Interior and the Governor of Phuket before ending the trip by visiting a local temple and village.

Mr Goff will then fly out to Jakarta for the summit, which will be attended by leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region, along with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"The summit is an important high-level opportunity to agree on a strategy that will provide immediate relief to victims of this unprecedented disaster and also ensure long-term reconstruction in all affected areas.

"While the Prime Minister is leading New Zealand's delegation, there will be an opportunity for Foreign Ministers to meet in the margins of the summit to work on the detail of coordinating aid and disaster relief efforts," Mr Goff said.

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