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Arab Heads Of Mission To Visit Wellington

4 December 2006

Arab Heads Of Mission To Visit Wellington

A group of six senior Arab diplomats will visit Wellington this week for talks with ministers and officials on Middle East issues, including peace and security and economic development. This is the first such group visit to New Zealand. The delegation will also be available to speak to media (see details below).

The delegation consists of five heads of mission accredited to New Zealand from Canberra, including the ambassadors of Lebanon (Mr Michel Bitar), Egypt (Mr Mohamed Tawfik), United Arab Emirates (Dr Saeed Mohammad Al-Shamsi), Syria (Mr Tamam Souliman); the Kuwaiti charge d’affaires a.i. (Mr Yousuf Al-Sabbagh); and the head of the General Palestinian Delegation (Mr Izzat Abdel Hadi).

The group is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Helen Clark, Foreign Minister Winston Peters, and Trade Minister Phil Goff.

New Zealand actively promotes peace and stability in the Middle East, including through diplomacy and peacekeeping. New Zealand has long supported efforts to achieve a just and lasting settlement of the dispute between Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Around 200 New Zealand Defence Force personnel serve in various Middle East peacekeeping operations, including the UN Truce Supervision Organisation and the Sinai Multinational Force and Observers. The new New Zealand Embassy in Cairo recently opened its doors.

New Zealand has significant and growing economic and trade interests in the Middle East with exports to June 2006 totalling more than $1.4 billion. The region is a major source of New Zealand’s oil and petrochemical imports. The Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, has recently agreed to begin talks on a free trade agreement with New Zealand.

For more information on the delegation and NZ/Middle East relations:
http://mfat.govt.nz/Media-and-publications/Media/Middle-East-Visit/index.php

END

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