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Burton attends high-level defence conference

June 3, 2005

Mark Burton attends high-level Asia-Pacific defence conference

Defence Minister Mark Burton is in Singapore to attend the annual International Institute of Strategic Studies Asia Security Conference (IISS).

The conference is the only formal meeting of Asia-Pacific defence ministers, policy makers, academics and commentators.

This will be the fourth successive year the conference has been held. Around 20 ministers, senior military commanders and a number of leading independent Asia Pacific security analysts are expected, including high level participation from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, India, Australia, and Malaysia.

"The IISS is an excellent opportunity to make and renew contacts with colleagues from the region and provides a venue for focused discussions on regional security issues," Mark Burton said.

While at the conference, Mr Burton will hold bilateral meetings with a number of his Asia-Pacific counterparts. He will also attend a meeting of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) ministers following the conference.

The FPDA between Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom was agreed in 1971 and is the region's longest active defence agreement.

"Participation in the FPDA underpins New Zealand’s commitment to regional security and provides an important mechanism for consultation and cooperation on security issues and multilateral defence exercises of a significant scale," Mark Burton said.

Following the conference, Mark Burton will travel to Japan for a programme of meetings as Minister of Defence and Minister of Tourism. He will attend the Aichi Expo, where tourism is a significant focus of the New Zealand pavilion. As well as meetings with business leaders, he will also host a group of high school students who visited New Zealand in April. The group's visit was filmed for a documentary that will be screened on Japanese television in August to an estimated audience of 15 million.

Mr Burton will also hold meetings with senior executives of the three major Japanese tourism operators, the Japan Travel Bureau, Highest International Standards Ltd, and Club Tourism. He will also host a dinner and meeting for the Japan Te Papa Club, a group of senior business leaders with a close business interest in New Zealand.

"Japan remains a vital market for New Zealand tourism. It is our fourth largest market in terms of visitor arrivals and our largest source of visitors from Asia.

"This year, Tourism New Zealand will be boosting their marketing efforts in the Japanese market by launching a full Japanese translation of the award winning website and increasing their media presence in Tokyo and Osaka," Mark Burton said.

As Minister of Defence, he will hold formal discussions with Japan's Defence Minister, Yoshinori Ohno and will call on the Minister for Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Kazuo Kitegawa.

The mixture of Defence and Tourism commitments will continue on the final leg of the Minister’s programme in South Korea. As well as addressing the recently established Korean Te Papa Club, he will meet with the Minister of Culture and Tourism, visit the New Zealand Centre for Culture and Education and hold meetings with major tour operators.

"South Korea is Asia's third-largest economy, after Japan and China, and the number of visitors to New Zealand continues to grow at a healthy rate," Mr Burton said.

Mr Burton’s Defence engagements will include meetings with Defence Minister Yoon Kwang Ung, and Commander, United Nations Command, General Leon La Porte.

"Like our relationship with Japan, New Zealand's defence engagement with the Republic of Korea has grown considerably in line with the expansion of other areas of our relationships. New Zealand and Korean service personnel served together in East Timor, for example, and have conducted various military exercises, ship visits and defence exchanges."


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