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Visit to New Zealand, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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Media Release Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer

12 December 2000

Visit to New Zealand, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea

 I will visit New Zealand, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea from 13-21 December.

In New Zealand I will hold talks on 13-14 December with the Prime Minister, Helen Clark; Trade Minister, Jim Sutton; Defence Minister, Mark Burton; Commerce Minister, Paul Swain; and,  Disarmament Minister, Matt Robson, on a wide-range of issues from the bilateral and regional agenda including our recent close work with New Zealand in East Timor, Bougainville, the South Pacific and regional trade issues. I will attend the biannual Australia New Zealand Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 15-16 December to discuss bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.

I will visit Vanuatu on 17-18 December, to discuss bilateral issues, such as Australian assistance and support for reform, and developments in the region, particularly in Melanesia, with the Prime Minister, Barak Sope, and his ministers. I will also launch a major new Australian aid project to strengthen Vanuatu’s legal sector.

On 19 December I will take advantage of my third visit to Solomon Islands this year to consult the Solomon Islands Government on implementation of the peace process and meet with members of the International Peace Monitoring Team, deployed there under Australian leadership in response to the Townsville Peace Agreement of 15 October. The peace between Guadalcanal and Malaitan militant groups is holding, but the security situation on the ground remains uncertain and much work is needed by the Solomon Islands parties to carry the peace process forward.

I will visit Papua New Guinea from 19-21 December and will meet with the Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta; the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Bougainville Affairs, Sir Michael Somare, and key Bougainvillean leaders.  I will also visit the island of Bougainville. I look forward to discussing the peace process with key Bougainvillean and National Government leaders and will be urging all parties to remain committed to a process of negotiation and to be patient and realistic. I will also take the opportunity to visit Australian personnel serving as members of the multinational Peace Monitoring Group.

Media inquiries: James Baker (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890 Matt Francis (Departmental) 02 6261 1555


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