, March 12, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark arrives in Manila Monday (March 13) for a four-day official visit that would further strengthen 40 years of bilateral relations between the Philippines and New Zealand.

Her visit comes 20 years after the last dedicated bilateral visit to the Philippines made in 1986 by then Prime Minister David Lange. In 1996, then Prime Minister Jim Bolger was in the Philippines but only to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Prime Minister Clark’s visit is also expected to bolster moves by the Philippines to introduce the importance of interfaith dialogue in achieving peace and security in the region and in the whole world. She will address on Tuesday the opening ceremony of the Dialogue on Regional Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Development and Human Dignity at the Shangri-La Mactan Hotel in Cebu province.

She will also make a series of official calls and meetings and visit New Zealand-assisted projects in Bohol through the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID).

Among the members of her official delegation are New Zealand Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism Dell Higgie, Ambassador to the Philippines Robert Moore-Jones, Prime Minister’s Office Chief Press Secretary David Lewis, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Foreign Policy Adviser Andrea Smith, and Embassy First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission Steve McCombie.

Upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late Monday afternoon, PM Clark will immediately fly to Cebu, where she will meet the New Zealand delegation in the interfaith summit Tuesday morning.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will hold a one-on-one meeting with PM Clark in Cebu on the same day.

The two leaders, according to the official release of the New Zealand government, are expected to discuss varying issues, including counter-terrorism and New Zealand’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines takes the chair of the ASEAN later this year and will be hosting the ASEAN and East Asia Summits in December.

From Cebu, the NZ Prime Minister will fly Tuesday mid-afternoon to Bohol, where a bilateral meeting between the New Zealand delegation and President Arroyo and members of her Cabinet will be held at the Bohol Beach Club.

The meeting is expected to tackle issues that would further enhance the two countries relations that started 40 years ago, when New Zealand cross-accredited an ambassador to Manila from Hong Kong in 1966. The New Zealand Embassy in Manila opened in 1975.

On Tuesday evening, President Arroyo will host a dinner at the Beach Front of Bohol Beach Club in Panglao Island, in honor of Prime Minister Clark.

On her third day (Wednesday) in the country, Prime Minister Clark will visit the site of the Dolphin Watch Pamilacan in Bohol, a beneficiary of technical and financial assistance from the NZAID.

The Dolphin Watch was recently selected as one of the five finalists in British Airways’ global "Tourism for Tomorrow" conservation awards.

Clark will return to Manila before Wednesday noon for a series of media interviews, a visit at the New Zealand Embassy in Makati City and signing of a proposed agreement between Universal College of Learning of Palmerston North and De La Salle University College of St. Benilde.

On her last day in the country, PM Clark will attend a morning wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Manila’s Rizal Park, after which she will hold a series of business meetings with the Makati Business Club, Philippine–New Zealand Business Council and the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce.

She will also meet with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) officials at the ADB Headquarters in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Senator Richard Gordon and Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila will call separately on Prime Minister Clark at the Makati Shangri-La before her departure for New Zealand Thursday afternoon.

RP-NZ relations has grown substantially in the past 40 years with the Philippines now the top export market of New Zealand in Southeast Asia.

New Zealand exports to the Philippines include dairy, kraft paper, timber and timber products and frozen beef. New Zealand imports from the Philippines include bananas, computer and electronic equipment.

PM Clark, a member of the Labour Party for more than 30 years, was elected Prime Minister on Nov. 27, 1999.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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