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Australian PM to commemorate World War I centenary in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of Australia and New Zealand will together dedicate a new memorial this month to commemorate the centenary of the two countries' joint involvement in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of the World War I.

In his second official visit to New Zealand in two months, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will join Prime Minister John Key in a dedication ceremony of the Australian Memorial at the new Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

"It is great to be able to welcome Prime Minister Abbott back to New Zealand so soon after his first visit in February for the Australia-New Zealand leaders' talks," Key said in a statement Monday.

"The Australian Memorial is positioned right in the heart of the park, befitting of the close and enduring relationship between our two nations," said Key.

Abbott would arrive on April 19 for the ceremony the following day.

The park, designed specifically for the anniversary of the World War I, would be officially opened on April 18, marking the start of a week of events to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings on April 25, Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry said in a statement.

The park was the government's single largest commitment to honoring the centenary of the World War I, in which more than 18, 000 New Zealanders died.

"The opening of Pukeahu will be a special occasion for the entire country. It is a beautiful place where all of us can come to remember those who have fought, not only in the World War I, but in all conflicts," said Barry.

April 25, or ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day, is a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand and the Gallipoli campaign is often referred to as an event that helped to define the two nations.

Key and Abbott will also jointly attend the Anzac Day services in Turkey on April 25.

To mark the centenary this year, more than 500 military personnel would represent New Zealand at Anzac Day services in Antarctica, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Australia and Turkey, the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) announced Monday.

Personnel would also take part in Anzac Day services in Niue, the Cook Islands, Tonga and Samoa to remember their involvement with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force a hundred years ago, Chief of Defence Force, Lieutenant General Tim Keating, said.

"Anzac Day is commemorated by New Zealanders all over the world and it is appropriate that our personnel are present in the countries in which our service people served during the World War I," Keating said in a statement.

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