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Pakistan President to make historic visit to NZ

President of Pakistan to make historic visit to New Zealand

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf will visit New Zealand next month.

"The visit on 17-19 June will be the first ever bilateral visit by a President of Pakistan to New Zealand," Helen Clark said.

"Under President Musharraf, Pakistan has played an important role in global counter terrorism.

“In addition, the President's support for improved relations with India has helped to ease tensions between these two neighbours over the past year. New Zealand strongly supports this peace process.

“I look forward to exchanging views with the President on these and other regional and international issues, including Commonwealth matters, nuclear non-proliferation and counter proliferation, and United Nations reform.

“Pakistan was readmitted to the Commonwealth a year ago in the expectation that it would continue to move down the path of democracy. President Musharraf’s leadership has brought stability to Pakistan. New Zealand continues to encourage Pakistan to take all necessary steps to strengthen its democratic processes and institutions.

“The President’s visit will help strengthen our bilateral relationship, with a view to increased trade and possible co-operation in education,” Helen Clark said.

Current two-way trade with Pakistan was $92 million in the year to June 2004. An Information and Communications Technology Mission, organised by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, will visit Pakistan later this month to explore opportunities in the telecommunications, broadcasting, and banking sectors.

New Zealand and Pakistan also have a long history of sporting contacts, especially in hockey and cricket.

Helen Clark will meet later today with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Khurshid Kasuri, to discuss the President’s visit.

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