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NZ, NATO agreement to exchange classified info

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

3 February 2006
Media statement

NZ, NATO agreement to exchange classified info

New Zealand and NATO have reached agreement on exchanging classified information on a regular basis, which will help facilitate peacekeeping operations where both are involved.

The Exchange of Letters took place today in Brussels when Defence Minister Phil Goff met with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

"New Zealand has worked with NATO in Bosnia and currently operates alongside NATO forces in Afghanistan. This agreement will provide for the exchange of classified information on a regular basis, rather than on an ad hoc basis as has been the practice to date," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand and NATO have also agreed on the Code of Conduct, which should apply when New Zealand officials and military personnel are on NATO property.

Mr Goff and Mr de Hoop Scheffer also discussed the planned southern expansion of the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, as well as NATO's support for African Union peacekeepers in Darfur and logistical support for Pakistan earthquake victims.

While in Brussels, Mr Goff also called on senior European Union and Belgian leaders to reaffirm New Zealand’s defence and security relationship with Europe.

“The EU and NATO are both looking to expand their military operations beyond traditional parameters to meet the security challenges of a post 9/11 environment, and to foster international stability and good governance," Mr Goff said.

"As a result, I expect that there will be on-going opportunities for us to work together in peacekeeping and in responding to crises such as natural disasters. New Zealand is already contributing troops to the EU-led peacekeeping mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan."

Mr Goff traversed a wide range of issues with EU High Representative Javier Solana. The focus was on the International Atomic Agency's resolution on Iran; the implications of Hamas' election victory in the Palestinian Authority, and peace initiatives in Aceh and Dafur.

“New Zealand and the EU are like-minded on a range of international issues. Development of the EU's security and defence policy, with its focus on peacekeeping and crisis management, fits very well with our international security priorities," Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff also met with Belgian Defence Minster Andre Flauhaut, and the two Ministers agreed to start work on a “Shared Memories Understanding”.

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark suggested the development of a Shared Memories Agreement when she met with Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt in Brussels last November.

"I am delighted with the progress in the agreement with Belgium, which follows the success of a similar agreement signed with France in 2004," Helen Clark said.

"This Understanding will recognise the contribution of New Zealand in two wars in Belgium, and the value we both see in keeping those memories alive and relevant for future generations."

"The agreement is very timely, as next year marks the 90th anniversary of Messines and Passchendaele. These battles took place on Belgian soil and were major New Zealand engagements in World War One," Helen Clark and Phil Goff said.

"New Zealand suffered its greatest casualties at Messines and Passchendaele. On 12 October 1917, in hardly more than four hours, 2700 casualties, including 840 fatalities, were inflicted on the New Zealand Division at Passchendaele. This was the bloodiest day in the history of our young country and it is important that it should be appropriately commemorated," Mr Goff said.


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