The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, is undertaking a five country visit to key nations in the Middle East.
Sir Jerry and Lady Janine Mateparae have arrived in Afghanistan, having previously visited the United Arab Emirates. After undertaking several events in Afghanistan, the Governor-General and Lady Janine will travel to Jordan, Kuwait and Oman.
The visit to Afghanistan was focused on marking the completion of New Zealand’s 10 year commitment to reconstruction in the Bamyan province of Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the Governor-General and Lady Janine will attend a number of events to mark the contribution of the Provincial Reconstruction team in Bamyan province and to honour the New Zealand Defence Force personnel who lost their lives there.
Sir Jerry Mateparae paid tribute to the several thousand New Zealanders who had served in Bamyan province from the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and civilian contractors.
“They came here knowing the risks that service here entailed, and the dangers that claimed 10 young lives. They came here because they were proud to follow in the footsteps of all New Zealanders who have left our shores to resist tyranny, to defend democratic values and to bring peace to troubled lands.”
More widely, the visit to all five nations in the Middle East aims to demonstrate New Zealand’s commitment to a region that shapes the global environment. New Zealand has long-standing relationships in the Middle East, with engagement growing across the political, security and trading spheres. Engagement with the Gulf Cooperation Council countries alone is increasingly important for New Zealand, with total trade totalling more than $5 billion in the year to June 2012.
Sir Jerry said New Zealand highly values the dialogue it has with its Middle East partners on issues of regional and global interest.
“I look forward to hearing the perspectives of our hosts on both the opportunities and challenges currently facing the region. New Zealand is committed to supporting the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, as demonstrated through the involvement of New Zealand peacekeepers in places such as the Sinai, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. I also welcome the closer links between our peoples, with many citizens of these countries now coming to New Zealand to study, to trade and for tourism.”
For more information, contact Antony Paltridge, Public Affairs Manager, Government House on 021 470 583