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New Zealand marks 30 years of relations with ASEAN

New Zealand marks 30 years of relations with ASEAN

Prime Minister Helen Clark announced today that the Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Mr Ong Keng-Yong, will visit New Zealand on 20-21 June.

Helen Clark said the visit marks the 30th anniversary of New Zealand’s links with ASEAN.

"New Zealand’s formal relations with ASEAN date back to 1975 when we became one of ASEAN’s earliest dialogue partners. Initially our ties were mostly in defence and development assistance. Thirty years on, New Zealand’s dealings with Southeast Asia have become more extensive and sophisticated," Helen Clark said.

"The government’s Seriously Asia strategy is helping New Zealand raise its profile in Southeast Asia. Last year, along with the Australian Prime Minister, I attended an historic summit with ASEAN leaders in Vientiane.

"While there we launched negotiations on an ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement; we issued a Joint Declaration outlining areas where New Zealand and ASEAN can work together in the future; and I also announced a series of initiatives to build stronger people-to-people links with ASEAN in the cultural, educational and media fields.

"The recent visits to New Zealand by leaders from Malaysia, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Laos, and my visit to Thailand in April, are evidence that our bilateral relationships with Southeast Asian countries are in good shape. These contacts reinforce the message that New Zealand is serious about Asia and wants to be part of the dynamic developments occurring in the region," Helen Clark said. While in New Zealand, Secretary-General Ong will be the guest of honour at a gala 30th anniversary dinner in Wellington on 20 June. The evening will feature a preview of an interactive DVD of New Zealand contemporary music made especially for young people in Southeast Asia. It includes artists such as Bic Runga, Che Fu, Goodshirt, Nesian Mystik, Scribe and The D4.

"Future goodwill is built on the understanding of young people in different countries today, and this DVD is a means to further strengthen those links," Helen Clark said.

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