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    MOSCOW, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - There are no obstacles to broadening bilateral relations between Russia and New Zealand and this is a good basis for furthering them, says a report from the Russian Foreign Ministry published in connection with the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Russia and New Zealand.

    The Foreign Ministry stressed that diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and New Zealand were established on April 13, 1944, while the two countries' were jointly struggling to win World War II.

    According to the report, the contribution New Zealand soldiers, sailors and pilots made to the common victory is warmly remembered in Russia. New Zealand sailors and pilots guarded the ships that the Allies used to carry military and economic cargo to the Soviet Union in the North Sea.

    In the postwar period, the two countries' relations were not as close because of ideological differences. Russia's democratic transformation and New Zealand's nuclear-free status, declared in 1987, helped change the character of the relations, Russia's Foreign Ministry recalls.

    The ministry believes that the anniversary will be marked by a period of expanded Russian-New Zealand relations. The two countries' Foreign Ministries contacts have been put on a permanent basis, the inter-parliament contacts have intensified, the treaty-legal base has broadened and the Russian-New Zealand dialogue has become more "meaningful and fruitful."

    According the ministry, Russia's Asian-Pacific policy, which has grown stronger in the past few years, and Moscow's participation in multilateral organizations, APEC in particular, have made Russia and New Zealand "members of a single club within which they have similar views on most current international and regional problems."

    Russia and New Zealand's first official contacts were in 1914, when a free-lance vice-consul of Russia, subordinated to the Consul-General in Melbourne, was appointed to Wellington, then a part of Britain. However, Russians were introduced to New Zealand in the 19th century by Faddei Bellinsgauzen and Mikhail Lazarev, famous Russian navigators. During their circumnavigation of the world, they made a significant contribution to the exploration and description of New Zealand.

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