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Goff to US for Forum and trade, defence talks

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Trade
Minister of Defence

16 April 2006

Goff to US for Forum and trade, defence talks

Trade and Defence Minister Phil Goff leaves for the United States on Tuesday to attend the Partnership Forum in Washington, and call on senior trade and defence figures in the Bush Administration.

While in Washington, Mr Goff is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld, US Trade Representative Robert Portman, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill.

Within his Defence portfolio, Mr Goff will meet Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace.

"My meetings with senior US trade officials will provide a timely opportunity to exchange views on the current state of the Doha Development Round agenda, and the way forward from here as the World Trade Organisation approaches important deadlines," Mr Goff said.

"I will also be reiterating New Zealand's wish to enter bilateral negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the US.

"The modernisation of the New Zealand Defence Force will be on the agenda during the defence calls, as well as recent developments in Asia and the Pacific. Our mutual involvement with the Proliferation Security Initiative, and New Zealand's contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, especially in Afghanistan where we are working closely with the Americans, will also be discussed.

"Iran's nuclear development programme and the current state of play with the Six Party Talks on North Korea are other important issues that will be covered."

Immigration, Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe will join Mr Goff at the Partnership Forum, and will also meet key counterparts from his portfolios.

"The Forum is a non-governmental initiative organised by the New Zealand-United States Council and its Washington counterpart the United States-New Zealand Council," Mr Goff said.

“It will be a great opportunity for business, academia, politicians and officials from both countries to talk about key issues in the Asia-Pacific region, and to build relationships with the overall aim of strengthening the relationship generally.

“As the world’s largest economy; New Zealand’s second largest export market, an important source of visitors and a key investment partner in New Zealand, the United States will always be a key trading partner for us.

"And as the world’s sole superpower, its influence on world events is unparalleled. Continuing to strengthen our relationship with the United States is important to this government.

“Strengthening the relationship includes constructive engagement with the US across a wide range of issues like international trade and counter-terrorism where we both share very similar perspectives.

“For that reason we welcome initiatives like the Partnership Forum, and David Cunliffe and I are looking forward to participating in it," Mr Goff said.

Mr Goff returns from Washington on April 24, when he will meet visiting US Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson in Auckland.

ENDS

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