15 Dec 2003

NZ and Australian foreign ministers conclude weekend talks

4:52 pm on 15 December 2003

New Zealand foreign minister, Phil Goff, and his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, have discussed the deployment of Australian police in Papua New Guinea during talks in New Zealand over the weekend.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Downer said Australia would welcome a contribution from New Zealand in PNG - but wasn't seeking one.

"We haven't asked for a New Zealand contribution, obviously if New Zealand wishes to offer a contribution we would be happy to accept it, but, remember, we have a quite different history with Papua New Guinea than New Zealand. Papua New Guinea was an Australian colony for a long time and so we have a very big aid budget there."

On trade, Mr Downer suggested the United States could be interested in a free trade deal with New Zealand after the next American elections.