INDEPENDENT NEWS

Australia-New Zealand Foreign Ministers Meeting

Published: Fri 20 Jul 2001 02:16 PM
JOINT COMMUNIQUE
The Honourable Alexander Downer MP The Honourable Phil Goff
Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
19-20 JULY
Alexander Downer and Phil Goff met in Katoomba, NSW on 19-20 July for a regular biannual exchange between Australian and New Zealand Foreign Ministers covering a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.
The Ministers said they were very happy with the state of relations between Australia and New Zealand and were particularly pleased with the level of cooperation on South Pacific issues.
The Ministers congratulated the parties to the Bougainville peace process on the significant progress they have made over the past six months in reaching agreement on a comprehensive political settlement. They encouraged all parties to maintain the constructive and cooperative dialogue that has characterised the negotiations. They also reaffirmed their continuing strong support for the role of the regional Peace Monitoring Group on Bougainville.
Mr Downer and Mr Goff said they were encouraged by clear signs of a return to democracy and constitutionalism in Fiji, where elections will be held from 25 August to 1 September. Australia and New Zealand are providing financial and technical support for the elections.
Australia and New Zealand are also providing support for the elections in the Solomon Islands. Both Ministers said they hoped elections this year in Solomon Islands would restore momentum to the peace process and bring genuine stability, thereby reassuring investors and aid donors.
The Ministers agreed that at the forthcoming Pacific Islands Forum Meeting in Nauru provided regional governments with an opportunity to confirm their commitment to the Biketawa Declaration on regional security cooperation. They also reiterated their strong commitment to the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.
Mr Downer and Mr Goff emphasised the value of Australia and New Zealand continuing to harmonise their aid policies and procedures in order to reduce the burden on recipient countries’ aid management systems and improve aid effectiveness.
The Ministers said the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Brisbane in October was an important opportunity for Leaders from a diverse group of countries to strengthen collective commitment to Commonwealth democratic principles. They recalled the Commonwealth’s useful role in Fiji and Solomon Islands and noted the relevance for the South Pacific region of its focus on the concerns of small states. The Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Small States will meet before CHOGM.
The Ministers acknowledged the importance of achieving an effective international framework to address climate change and said they hoped that current negotiations in Bonn would advance Kyoto Protocol implementation issues.
The Ministers noted the significance of Indonesia to regional stability and prosperity. They underlined their support for Indonesia during its historic transition to democracy. They reiterated their support for a democratic, stable, prosperous and united Indonesia, and the importance of the protection of the human rights of all Indonesians. They noted the benefits that would flow to Indonesia and its neighbours from a sustained program of economic reform in Indonesia.
The Ministers welcomed progress towards the 30 August elections in East Timor and urged all East Timorese to participate peacefully. They acknowledged the good work to date by the East Timorese and the international community in preparing for independence. They noted the significant work that remained in assisting East Timor towards becoming a stable and viable state. They underlined the need for early action to improve security on the border including through the closure of the refugee camps in west Timor and resettlement and return of refugees. They called on the international community to reaffirm its commitment to East Timor through to and beyond independence.
Australia and New Zealand will continue to work actively with ASEAN partners to develop the ASEAN-CER Closer Economic Partnership (CEP). The Ministers said that both governments also welcomed the impetus provided by the recent APEC Trade Ministers meeting for the launch of a new WTO round in 2001. APEC is playing an important role in addressing the globalisation debate through its efforts to communicate the benefits of trade liberalisation. The Ministers reaffirmed their desire to ensure that the Shanghai Leaders meeting developed a comprehensive and vigorous forward agenda for APEC.
As part of a continuing exchange on regional trade issues, the Ministers shared views on Australia and New Zealand’s respective approaches to pursuing Free Trade Agreements.
The Ministers welcomed the visit to New Zealand next week by a delegation of young political leaders from Australia under a recently agreed annual exchange program. These exchanges reflect the commitment of both countries to foster trans-Tasman understanding at all levels.
Ends

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