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New Zealand congratulates new President of Chile

16 January 2006

New Zealand congratulates new President of Chile

Prime Minister Helen Clark has offered her congratulations to the new President-elect of Chile, Michelle Bachelet.

"President-elect Bachelet has made history by becoming the first woman to win presidential elections in Chile," Helen Clark said.

"Her achievement is all the more remarkable given that she survived imprisonment and torture under the Pinochet regime thirty years ago."

Michelle Bachelet spent time in exile in Australia and Europe before returning to Chile in 1979. She was Minister of Health and Minister of Defence in the government currently led by President Ricardo Lagos.

Michelle Bachelet will be inaugurated as President in March for a four year term. She is the fourth successive president from a centre-left coalition since democracy was re-established in 1990.

"New Zealand and Chile have a warm and close relationship. Just last year our two countries, along with Singapore and Brunei, signed the first multi-nation free trade agreement spanning the Pacific and Asia," Helen Clark said.

"We pursue many common interests in organisations such as APEC, the United Nations, the WTO, and the Cairns Group, and we also co-operate on Antarctic and other key environmental issues, and on nuclear disarmament.

"There have been many high level visits between New Zealand and Chile in recent years, at Presidential, Prime Ministerial, and ministerial level.

"I look forward to working with the new President on bilateral and international issues," Helen Clark said.

ENDS

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