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PM announces Seriously Asia initiatives

14 December 2005

Prime Minister announces Seriously Asia initiatives

Prime Minister Helen Clark today announced new initiatives, as part of the 'Seriously Asia' programme, aimed at strengthening New Zealand's ties with Asia.

Helen Clark is currently attending the inaugural East Asia Summit, to which New Zealand has been invited along with the ten ASEAN members, China, Japan, Korea, India, and Australia.

"Initiatives in the package will foster people-to-people links between New Zealand and Asia and help strenthgen avian influenza preparedness and aviation and border and financial security in the region.

"A key initiative is a $400,000 grant to the Department of Animal Health in Viet Nam to purchase lab and protective equipment for use in its fight against avian influenza.

"The money will help fund specialised biosecurity cabinets and personal protective equipment and disinfectants for staff working at the front line of disease control in Viet Nam.

"This brings New Zealand Aid's contribution to date towards avian influenza measures in the Asia-Pacific region to $2 million.

"New Zealand will also contribute $200,000 to the Asia Development Bank for a project to harmonise aviation and security regulation in the Pacific. This ADB project overall focuses on modernising port security and customs, and on efforts to combat money laundering, all essential counter terrorism measures in today's international environment.

"Today's package builds on the initiatives I announced last year at the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, by further encouraging New Zealand's links with Asia.

"Existing programmes for media visits and academic exchanges will be extended to include the North Asian region, and support will be given to a New Zealand South East Asia Symposium to be held in Singapore in 2006.

"The package also includes funding to foster New Zealand's links with 'think tanks' in the wider region, such as the Network of East Asian Think Tanks. NEAT has been heavily involved in developing the concept of an East Asian community. A dialogue with the Japan Institute of International Affairs on Asia-Pacific issues is also being planned for next year," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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