New Zealand
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New Zealand, Australia PMs meet to celebrate close ties

WELLINGTON, July 26 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese met here on Wednesday for their first annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders' Meeting and the celebration of several anniversaries.

The meeting took place as both countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of Closer Economic Relations (CER), the 50th anniversary of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, and the 80th anniversary of diplomatic representation, said a New Zealand government statement.

"It was great to meet again with Prime Minister Albanese to celebrate our closest international relationship, mark this special year of anniversaries and work towards an even better future," Hipkins said.

It was the fifth time the two prime ministers met in seven months.

The Australia-New Zealand Leaders' Meeting is their annual opportunity to "assess and set priorities for the relationship for the following year," Hipkins said.

Wednesday saw an agreement to put together a joint Australia-New Zealand expert group, with a clear deadline of 12 months, to "scope initiatives to move closer towards seamless travel across the Tasman," the statement said.

Measures would be adopted to help trans-Tasman businesses and tourism with a simplified border, without compromising security, it said, adding the expert group will report back by the end of June 2024.

The two sides also discussed issues of economic cooperation, trade, and climate change, among others.