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Wednesday, March 4

NZ and Korea to begin work on FTA

Prime Minister John Key and the President of the Republic of Korea HE Lee Myung-bak have agreed that negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries will begin as early as possible.

The two leaders have concluded bilateral talks this afternoon in Auckland, agreeing to continue annual Foreign Ministers' meetings and high-level contacts.

"Our relationship with Korea is strong and vibrant, and we would like to further strengthen this relationship, building on extensive bilateral cooperation in recent years."

The talks between President Lee and Mr Key included the importance of educational links, and collaboration in the fields of food innovation, renewable energy and nanotechnology. Both leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation on green growth, including collaboration on clean energy sources.

"As Tourism Minister I am pleased that President Lee has agreed to continue working together to enhance tourism and fully utilise the Working Holiday Schemes in both countries."

President Lee and Mr Key also shared their concerns for the deepening economic crisis and emphasised the importance of maintaining open markets.