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Ambassador to register concerns with North Korean

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs


19 June 2006
Media statement

Ambassador to register concerns with North Koreans


New Zealand's Ambassador-designate to North Korea, Jane Coombs, will urge Pyongyang to resume Six Party talks on its nuclear programme when she presents her credentials this week, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

“Ms Coombs’ visit also provides a timely opportunity to express New Zealand's opposition to North Korean plans to test an intercontinental ballistic missile later this week," Mr Peters said.

"New Zealand, along with the rest of the international community, wants North Korea to give up its weapons of mass destruction and to cease attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

"Until that happens, it will be difficult to help North Korea address the major development problems its people continue to face.

“Our decision to normalise relations with Pyongyang in March 2001 was based on the hope that we could help North Korea into the international fold.

"We remain hopeful that will happen, and will continue to do our best to encourage Pyongyang to engage more openly with the rest of the world."

Ms Coombs will be in Pyongyang from 20-24 June. She is expected to discuss a wide range of issues with North Korean officials, including disarmament and human rights, in addition to presenting credentials to President of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Kim Young Nam.

New Zealand provides humanitarian assistance to North Korea through the World Food Programme and UNICEF (including recent donations of $400,000 and $300,000 respectively). There has been no bilateral trade for several years.

Ms Coombs will be the third ambassador cross accredited from Seoul since diplomatic relations were normalised.

ENDS

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