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First visit by NZ Foreign Minister to Ukraine

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

21 April 2006

Peters makes first visit by NZ Foreign Minister to Ukraine

Foreign Minister Winston Peters leaves Kiev tonight having completed the first ever visit by a New Zealand Foreign Minister to Ukraine.

"On the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster it was timely to reflect on the fact that at times during their long history the people of Ukraine have suffered greatly.

"Since Ukraine regained its independence fifteen years ago much progress has been made. This visit was intended as an expression of New Zealand's support for the strengthening of democratic governance in this country, as elsewhere in the world.

"The warmth of the welcome shown to the New Zealand delegation has been remarkable, including from President Yushchenko himself," Mr Peters said.

As well as meeting President Yushchenko, while in Kiev Mr Peters met Deputy Prime Minister Stanislav Stashevsky, Deputy Speaker of parliament Adam Martinyk (the Speaker was not returned at the recent election), and held talks and signed a joint statement on bilateral cooperation with Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk. He also laid a wreath at the Ukrainian Famine Memorial, and visited the Chernobyl Museum.

"Ukraine is looking to expand its role internationally, to contribute to peace and stability in its own region and beyond. Like New Zealand, Ukraine makes substantial contributions to peacekeeping in many parts of the world. Ukraine also has considerable economic potential. Against that background, there is scope to build up bilateral relations, and the Ukrainian side expressed a strong interest in working to achieve that goal," concluded Mr Peters.

ENDS

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