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Peters completes visit to North Korea

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

18 November 2007
Media statement

Peters completes visit to North Korea

New Zealand is willing to assist North Korea’s economic development if it follows through on its commitments under the Six Party Talks, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said after a two-day visit to North Korea.

While in North Korea, Mr Peters had talks with President Kim Yong-Nam; Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun; the Ministers of Trade and Agriculture, and the head of the committee for relations with foreign countries. He also visited a garment factory and a farm on the outskirts of the capital, Pyongyang.

“Our message was straightforward. We are encouraged by progress to date in the Six Party Talks on the denuclearisation of North Korea, and if North Korea continues to cooperate and implement its undertakings, New Zealand is ready to develop the relationship,” Mr Peters said.

“North Korean officials were keen to expand the relationship, and we talked about possible areas of cooperation, particularly in agriculture, training, and conservation. Nothing is finalised, but there is scope for officials to follow up.

“The progress and outlook for the Six Party Talks formed an important part of our discussions. North Korean officials reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the current agreements, and they told us they are ready to take further steps on an action-for-action basis.

“However, while they said they would do what they have promised, they also made it clear that this was contingent on all other Six Party Talks members fulfilling their obligations according to the agreed schedule.

“We also discussed human rights, not in terms of specific, but as an area of considerable concern for the international community, and one where we expected progress to be made.”

Mr Peters said while he had visited many parts of Pyongyang, it was important to be realistic about impressions formed from a short trip that did not involve travelling deep into rural areas.

“However what we did see was a country that has fallen behind many of its Asian neighbours in social and economic terms. My message was that North Korea will benefit substantially from international support if they follow through on their promises to denuclearise,” Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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