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Prime Minister at Hillary Service and NATO summit


Prime Minister at Hillary Service and NATO summit

Prime Minister Helen Clark leaves for Europe on Monday evening to attend the Service of Thanksgiving for Sir Edmund Hillary, the NATO summit discussion on Afghanistan, and a Progressive Governance Conference in London hosted by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“The service for Sir Edmund will be held at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, on 2 April. It will be attended by Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, other members of the Royal Family, Sir Edmund’s family, invited guests and members of the public,” Helen Clark said.

“St George’s Chapel is almost 500 years old and is the resting place of ten former sovereigns. The Queen’s offer of the Chapel for the Service of Thanksgiving is of special significance, and reflects her association with Sir Edmund since the beginning of her reign.

“New Zealanders living in London were invited to express their interest in attending the service, with places available in the Lower Ward, or court, of the Castle. It is estimated that around 450 New Zealanders will take up this option.

“The service will include the ‘laying up’ of Sir Edmund’s Knight of the Garter banner, when it is returned to his family. At the conclusion of the Service, the Hillary family will have a private audience with the Queen,” Helen Clark said.

Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will later host Prime Minister Helen Clark and Peter Davis at a private lunch at Windsor Castle.

Helen Clark will then attend NATO's Enlarged Meeting on Afghanistan, in Bucharest, Romania on 3 April.

“New Zealand is among fifteen non-NATO contributors to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan invited to Bucharest to refine the political and military strategy for support to Afghanistan. The ISAF operates under a United Nations mandate. "There is an emerging view that more can be done for Afghanistan. NATO will discuss a strategy for future international support for Afghanistan, including the need for increased co-ordination among key partners in Afghanistan to strengthen governance and development support to the Afghan Government," Helen Clark said.

New Zealand has Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan, serving within the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province and in headquarters and training roles elsewhere in the country. The PRT maintains security, assists with reconstruction and development, and distributes emergency humanitarian assistance.

On 4 and 5 April, the Prime Minister returns to London to attend the Progressive Governance Leaders’ Summit and Policy Network Conference and meet with a number of leaders including British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

“Leaders will be discussing trade and development issues and the reform of international institutions, following the Policy Network Conference which will also focus on climate change and sustainability,” Helen Clark said.

ends

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