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State Visit Of United States President

New Zealand's relationship with the United States will be significantly boosted by the state visit of President Bill Clinton next month, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

President Clinton will visit Queenstown and Christchurch on September 14 -15 after attending the APEC Leaders' Meeting in Auckland.

"President Clinton's visit, the first by an American leader since President Johnson was here in 1966, is very significant for New Zealand. It is the perfect opportunity for us to further build on the advances we have made in strengthening the relationship in recent years," Mrs Shipley said.

"It will also give us a wonderful opportunity to showcase New Zealand, not only to Americans but also to the whole world through the international news media coming with President Clinton. Having the President visit two such scenic places as Queenstown and Christchurch is a real bonus from a tourism perspective."

President Clinton's visit follows the Prime Minister's meeting with him at the White House in January this year.

"That meeting was very successful at re-establishing the relationship at the highest level and cementing in the advances we have made in recent times," Mrs Shipley said.

"Our relationship is a very strong one, based on our shared values and the many partnerships we are involved in together, particularly on environmental, security and peacekeeping matters.

"There have been issues in the past, but overall our relationship with the United States has gone from strength to strength over the past few years and is now a very positive one. President Clinton's visit is perfectly timed to consolidate the gains we've made in what is one of New Zealand's most important political and trading relationships."

President Clinton is scheduled to fly to Queenstown on September 14, the morning after the APEC Leaders' Meeting concludes. His visit to Queenstown is a private one, and he has made no official engagements for the time that he is there.

On September 15 he flies to Christchurch for a full day of meetings and functions, which includes bi-lateral talks with Mrs Shipley.

"We will be discussing issues of mutual interest, like environmental and security matters. It will be an excellent opportunity for us to register just how broad the areas are in which we co-operate closely on the world stage and what a strong commitment New Zealand makes internationally.

"Trade liberalisation will also be on the agenda, following on from the work we will have done together at APEC. The Americans are hosting the start of the World Trade Organisation Round in Seattle later this year and we will be discussing what New Zealand can do to help the US successfully launch this important round of trade liberalisation talks."

While President Clinton's schedule for Christchurch has yet to be finalised, he is planning to make a major speech at the Antarctic Centre.

Mrs Shipley said she was pleased that President Clinton would be holding talks with Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin while the two leaders were in New Zealand.

"This will be a key meeting for the two leaders and I am very happy that we are able to facilitate that meeting while they are both here," the Prime Minister said.

ENDS

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