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Goff to visit Europe, Asia

Mon, 21 Feb 2005

Goff to visit Europe, Asia

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Foreign Minister Phil Goff leaves tomorrow on a two-week trip to Europe, China, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India.

Enroute to Europe, Mr Goff will stop in Los Angeles to open the new offices of the New Zealand Consulate General.

"Los Angeles is New Zealand's gateway to the United States, and the Consulate General, which covers the western US, is one of our busiest," Mr Goff said.

"The region has significant wealth, and is of great importance to New Zealand. California alone accounts for nearly a third of our $4.3 billion export trade to the US, and the region is also a world leader in information technology and the creative industries.

"The Consulate also houses the government's trade, tourism, immigration and investment offices for the United States, while Air New Zealand, Telecom, and Fisher and Paykel all have their US bases in Los Angeles."

Mr Goff is visiting Europe for the latest round of six-monthly consultations with the European Union Presidency, currently held by Luxembourg. He will then spend two days in Brussels for meetings with Belgium's new Foreign Minister and key members of the new European Commission.

"Regular talks with the EU provide an invaluable opportunity to exchange views on a range of international issues and to maintain an increasingly important bilateral relationship," Mr Goff said.

Progress in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations and a range of regional and international issues, including North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan and the UN agenda, will be covered during two days in Beijing, where Mr Goff will meet the Chinese Foreign Minister and other senior leaders.

Visiting the Maldives (March 1-3) and Sri Lanka (March 3-4) will allow Mr Goff to get a first-hand assessment of tsunami damage and to discuss New Zealand's contribution to reconstruction efforts.

Mr Goff's visit to India builds on the momentum of the Prime Minister's trip there late last year. He will meet his Indian counterpart to discuss ways of strengthening bilateral relations and to also review key regional issues such as the tsunami response.

ENDS

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