Australian PM visits New Zealand

Thursday, February 15, 2007

John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia.
Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

The Australian Prime Minister (PM), John Howard has arrived in New Zealand today for various duties.

While in New Zealand Mr Howard will talk to the New Zealand PM, Helen Clark; participate in a joint New Zealand and Australian CEO conference at Wellington's Victoria University; open the new high commission for Australia in Thorndon; lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; and talk to the leader of New Zealand's opposition party, National, John Key.

Ms Clark has said that their talks will cover various topics, including trade, global warming, problems in the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and the settling of Tonga, and about New Zealand's apples continuing to be banned in Australia. They will also talk about other regional, and international topics. Keith Locke, Green party member, is urging that Ms Clark talks to Mr Howard about sensitive issues, including urging Australia to withdraw from Iraq, release David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay, and Australia not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Howard said, "We remain quite concerned about Fiji and will compare notes and talk about that as well as other bilateral issues."

Mr Howard said that the relationship between himself and Ms Clark are good. "We put aside any ideological differences we might have and we focus very much on getting good results." He also said that the relationship between Australia and New Zealand "...has got a lot of history, it has got a lot of common culture, it has got a lot of common sporting endeavour. But, like all close relationships, if you take them for granted they tend to fray at the edges over time."

Mr Howard will return to Australia on Friday.