Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence
Minister of Trade
5 March 2008
Goff to meet Australian Ministers of Trade and Defence
Trade and Defence Minister Phil Goff will be in Australia for two days from tomorrow for his first formal meeting with the new Australian Federal Ministers of Trade and Defence.
Mr Goff will meet Trade Minister Simon Crean in Melbourne tomorrow and Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon in Sydney on Friday.
“New Zealand worked closely with the previous Australian Government and I am looking forward to working alongside my new counterparts to continue and enhance our very strong relationship. I know both Simon and Joel from engagement with them prior to their becoming ministers and enjoy a good personal relationship with them.
“The meeting with Simon Crean is timely given developments in the WTO Doha Round. We will also have high on our agenda advancing trade relationships in the Pacific and ways of strengthening our Closer Economic Relationship towards becoming a single economic market. This year is the 25th anniversary of the CER and we will be celebrating the successes of this agreement.
“Timor Leste will be a key focus in the meeting with Joel Fitzgibbon. We will be discussing the implications of the attempted assassinations of Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao. We will also be looking at what we need to do to help build Timor Leste’s own security capabilities, support its democratic leadership and help its economic development.
“New Zealand provides more than 170 troops to Timor Leste. We have recently extended the deployment of two Iroquois military helicopters and 32-associated personnel. Like Australia, we are also contributing police, military trainers and development funds.
“Joel Fitzgibbon and I will also discuss the current security situation in Afghanistan and issues on Afghanistan that may arise at an upcoming NATO summit in Bucharest in April. New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan was the third to be set up in Afghanistan and New Zealand currently has more than 120 Defence Force personnel and several police officers in that country.
“Another area of discussion will be recent developments in the Solomon Islands and security issues in the Pacific more generally,” Mr Goff said.