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Phil Goff to attend meetings in New York and DC

Phil Goff to attend meetings in New York and Washington DC

Trade and Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff leaves today for a seven-day trip to New York and Washington DC.

Mr Goff will hold bilateral meetings with US Administration and congressional representatives and meet with ministerial trade counterparts from the United States and the members of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (“P4”): Brunei, Chile and Singapore.

He will also represent New Zealand at United Nations General Assembly related events, including the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which will discuss developments in Fiji.

“My meeting with P4 counterparts and USTR Ambassador Schwab provides a further opportunity for the P4 countries to discus with and encourage the US to enter into a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement,” Mr Goff said.

“The United States has already joined the P4 negotiations on investment and financial services, and the third round of these negotiations was held in San Francisco last week.

“A bilateral meeting with Susan Schwab and more broadly the P4 meeting will be a continuation of discussions we have had on an ongoing basis for the last 14 months about the benefits that a comprehensive FTA would bring,” Mr Goff said.

“Another important focus of the trip will be to represent New Zealand at United Nations and Commonwealth meetings. In this context, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting would be particularly important, given its focus on Fiji.

“It is nearly two years since the December 2006 coup and the Commonwealth shares the Pacific Islands Forum’s concern at the absence of progress to return to the people of Fiji the power to determine their own government.

“The CMAG meeting will provide an opportunity to report on the recent Forum Leaders meeting in Niue and its Communique, which sets out a viable pathway for the restoration of legitimate government in Fiji.

“In Niue, forum leaders unanimously reaffirmed their earlier call for elections to be held in accordance with Fiji’s Constitution by March 2009, and supported the Commonwealth-led independent and inclusive political dialogue process that could create a better climate for these elections,” Mr Goff said.

“Other meetings I will attend will cover the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals and meetings of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers and Leaders.

“I will also attend a commemoration service at West Point, New York, for my nephew, US Army Captain Matthew Ferrara, who was killed in Afghanistan last year.

“Matthew is being posthumously awarded a Silver Star for his part in a combat action that took place in Afghanistan shortly before his death,” Mr Goff said.


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