New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan
PM makes successful visit to South Korea for Armistice Commemorations
The New Zealand Prime Minister Hon John Key left Seoul on Monday after a successful few days of meeting political, business and defence leaders. From the outset, Mr Key made no secret of his hope that this visit , which coincided with the 60-year anniversary of the ceasefire in the Korean War, would lead to the resumption of trade talks with South Korea.
PM Key was not disappointed. Following his meeting with new President Park Geun-hye at the "Blue House", South Korea's presidential palace, Leaders announced that New Zealand is to resume free trade talks with South Korea, possibly as early as October. "Officials still need to belt out the details and that is always a long and drawn out process, but it's good news," Prime Minister Key commented. South Korea is New Zealand's fifth largest trading partner, after Japan, and the source of $1.55 billion in exports in 2012, while we imported $1.8 billion in goods from South Korea.
The Summit meeting reaffirmed the closeness of "contemporary" ties between New Zealand and South Korea and provided the Prime Minister with an opportunity to underline New Zealand’s support for the President’s efforts to progress "trust and confidence-building with North Korea" as well as international efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons programme.
Prime Minister Key also thanked the President for the warm reception which Korea has given to war veterans from New Zealand and other countries for the armistice commemorations. The President referred to Korea’s on-going gratitude for the contribution of New Zealand and other countries during the Korean War. PM Key visited South Korea with a group of 34 New Zealand veterans to take part in commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. His speech at the ceremony can be found here, and photos from the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea can be found here.
New Zealand's commitment to the Armistice means that New Zealand forces have continued to support the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations operation on the Korean Peninsula, to this very day. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) routinely stations staff in the Demilitarised Zone to monitor activities across this tense border area. The NZDF contribution to the United Nations operation honours both the New Zealanders and other allied countries who lost their lives during the war, and the Republic of Korea's rise as a leading and prosperous democratic nation.