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Veterans delegation returns from Viet Nam

Veterans delegation returns from Viet Nam

Veterans' Affairs Minister, Rick Barker and a delegation of six New Zealand veterans of the Viet Nam war have returned from a successful trip to Ha Noi. This was the first formal visit by a group of New Zealand veterans to Viet Nam with the purpose of exploring possible connections between veterans' groups.

"It has been a real privilege for me to be involved in the trip. The visit was primarily for the six veterans and my role was to be in support," Mr Barker said.

The invitation was extended by the Vietnamese Government sponsored, Veterans' Association of Viet Nam (VAVN) and during meetings a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RNZRSA) and VAVN. Mr Barker witnessed the signing of the Memorandum but during the veteran to veteran meetings made calls on Civil Defence matters and attended meetings with Vietnamese Ministers.

"This visit and the agreement reached by veterans represent a new and exciting chapter in the relationship between our two countries. There is a special camaraderie which exists between former combatants and in this case it has the potential to significantly broaden the people-to-people relationships between Viet Nam and New Zealand, Mr Barker said

Mr Robin Klitscher, National President of the RNZRSA signed the Memorandum on behalf of New Zealand veterans.

"This memorandum deals with better understanding among veterans, sharing experiences, veteran's rights, possible cooperative ventures and the importance of international discourse in the cause of peace. This exercise has met and surpassed our best expectations. We have established a new thread in the relationship between New Zealand and Viet Nam. In fact, without that thread the fabric would not be complete," Mr Klitscher said.

While in Viet Nam Mr Barker announced a New Zealand Government contribution of NZ$32,000 for the Vietnam Friendship Village to help improve the Village's water supply and the establishment of two fully-funded post-graduate scholarships in environmental studies worth NZ$265,000. Mr Barker also called on senior member of the Vietnamese Cabinet, Mrs Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. Their discussions covered the services provided to veterans of each country.


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