COOK ISLANDS PRIME MINISTERIAL DISCUSSIONS

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Government Of The Cook Islands

MEDIA RELEASE July 24, 1998

WITH NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT

Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Henry, KBE, has just concluded a highly successful round of discussions with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, the Rt. Hon. Jenny Shipley, and other senior members of her Government.

"Not having visited Wellington for official discussions with the New Zealand Government since 1989, I was particularly grateful for the invitation from Prime Minister Shipley to do so at this time," said the Prime Minister. "It has provided an ideal opportunity to reinforce the close ties of friendship that have long existed between our two countries and peoples and to discuss a wide range of both bilateral and international issues of great impotence to both the Cook Islands and New Zealand," Sir Geoffrey explained.

During their meeting, Prime Minister Shipley extended her Government's heartiest congratulations to the Prime Minister, his Government and the people of the Cook Islands for the breadth of the reforms undertaken over the past several years and the great progress made. She reaffirmed New Zealand's close ties of friendship with the Cook Islands and a strong desire on the part of her Government to work closely with the Cook Islands on many bilateral and other matters of mutual interest. Sir Geoffrey and Prime Minister Shipley also took the opportunity of an official dinner in the Prime Minister's honor to discuss various issues relating to the forthcoming South Pacific Forum. The Prime Minister is currently Chairman of the Forum, while this coming Forum will be Prime Minister Shipley's first.

While in Wellington, the Prime Minister paid a courtesy call on the New Zealand Governor-General, the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Hardie Boys, GNZM GCMG, and Lady Hardie Boys.

Sir Geoffrey also held discussions with the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters; the Minister of Finance, the Rt. Hon. Bill Birch; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Rt. Hon. Don McKinnon; and the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Simon Upton. Each New Zealand Minister was eager to speak with the Prime Minister about the major economic reforms undertaken by the Cook Islands in recent years. They all extended their congratulations on the progress made and encouragement and support for the reform initiatives still being planned and implemented.

During the round of ministerial discussions, the Prime Minister also took the opportunity to raise with New Zealand Ministers a wide range of other matters, including Government's concerns about the need to deal with growing levels of solid waste in the country, how best the region might co-operate in the future to address the increasingly urgent problems of climate change, the portability of superannuation for Cook Islanders wishing to return to the Cook Islands to retire, and various regional and international developments of importance to the Cook Islands, New Zealand and region as a whole.

While in Wellington, the Prime Minister was formally introduced to the New Zealand Parliament and given a seat of honor in the House where he met personally with Parliamentarians from both Government and Opposition benches.

At his request, Sir Geoffrey also met with the entire Cook Islands community in Wellington. During the meeting, the Prime Minister recounted recent developments in the Cook Islands and answered questions from Cook Islanders about a wide range of issues.

As well, the Prime Minster was hosted to lunch by the Chinese Ambassador to the Cook Islands. Sir Geoffrey also met with diplomatic representatives of France, India, Italy and the United States regarding various bilateral issues. He also addressed a large meeting of the New Zealand Institute of International affairs on recent economic reforms in the Forum region, with particular focus on the Cook Islands.

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