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Three day visit by Goff to Washington

Three day visit by Goff to Washington

Foreign Minister Phil Goff completed a visit to Washington this week after wide-ranging discussions with members of the second Bush Administration. He called on the State Department, the Pentagon, the National Security Council and the Directorate of National Intelligence.

Among those that Mr Goff met during his visit were Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Deputy Secretary of Defence-designate Gordon England, Deputy National Security Adviser JD Crouch, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Christopher Hill, and Ambassador John Negroponte, recently appointed to the new position of Director of National Intelligence. He also met members of Congress, and addressed a meeting of the US/New Zealand Council.

“Discussions included security, trade and international issues of concern to both countries, and cooperation between us. Terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remain key foreign policy concerns for New Zealand and the US. We discussed the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. I was able to brief new members of the Administration on New Zealand’s contributions to reconstruction in Afghanistan and steps being taken in the Pacific and South East Asia against terrorist threats. The Government’s recent decision to significantly increase defence spending for peacekeeping and security operations was acknowledged and welcomed.

“Developments in the Asia Pacific region, in particular the situation in North Korea and the shared concern about North Korea’s nuclear programme were discussed. I was briefed on the efforts the US has made to persuade the DPRK to return to the Six Party talks. I outlined New Zealand’s efforts, most recently during our Ambassador’s visit to North Korea last week, to emphasise to the North Koreans our and the region’s growing concerns about its nuclear programme,” Mr Goff said.

“We also discussed steps to create new regional institutions such as the East Asia Summit, and New Zealand’s interest in such institutions being inclusive and outward looking.

“I indicated the importance New Zealand attaches to the US’s engagement in the Asia Pacific region and acknowledged the role the US had played in tsunami relief operations in Southeast Asia earlier this year.

“The talks also covered New Zealand’s case for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. The Administration and Congress are currently preoccupied with passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement through Congress. I indicated our confidence that there was support for such an agreement both in Congress and in the corporate sector. The recent launching of a New Zealand Caucus in Congress with now over 60 members has given a boost to New Zealand’s case. New US Trade Representative, Robert Portman, was a member of the Caucus before resigning from Congress to take up his new post. Ongoing support by the US Chamber of Commerce and New Zealand’s listing by the National Association of Manufacturers as one of the five key countries with which it wanted an FTA negotiated have also been helpful”, Mr Goff said.

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