New Zealand MP to be present at state funeral of Gerald Ford

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Monday, January 1, 2007

New Zealand member of Parliament (MP), minister of ethnic affairs, conservation, and housing, the Honourable Chris Carter is to represent New Zealand at the state funeral of the late United States President, Gerald Ford held in Washington.

The state funeral will include the family of President Ford, foreign representatives and senior politicians from America. The funeral is to be held in the Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC, on the morning of January 2, 2007.

Hon Carter, said: "The prime minister [ Helen Clark ] considers it important ... to show at a time of national mourning in the US that we are prepared to send someone in the middle of our summer holidays, when our parliament is not sitting, because we value the relationship."

MP Honourable Trevor Mallard, who made the announcement, said: "President Ford won respect for the decent, down to earth qualities that he brought back to government after assuming the Presidency in 1974 in the difficult circumstances of the aftermath of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of former President Richard Nixon."

The announcement of Hon Carter representing New Zealand overseas is strange because the Right Honourable Winston Peters is the minister of foreign affairs for New Zealand.

After the funeral on the national day of mourning, Hon Carter should meet America's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.

Hon Mallard, said: "The United States is a fundamentally important partner for New Zealand. It is appropriate that we mark our respect for the strength of US democracy and the many other enduring values that we share in common with the United States in this way."

Hon Carter left for America last night (NZDT), December 31, 2006.

President Ford was in office for only two years, 1974 - 1976. President Ford took over from President Nixon following the Watergate scandal. President Ford was 93-years-old when he passed on.

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