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New Zealand FM to tour Middle East ahead of UNSC chair role

WELLINGTON, May 29 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully will tour the Middle East and Cyprus next week to prepare for issues that will arise when New Zealand leads the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

McCully said Friday he would meet with leaders and senior ministers in Egypt, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and Cyprus, as well as with Arab League officials in Cairo.

"New Zealand will begin our presidency of the United Nations Security Council in July, and matters relating to the Middle East and the on-going situation in Cyprus will be on the agenda," McCully said in a statement.

"This visit will ensure New Zealand is well-placed to engage on the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), having heard directly from the relevant parties in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories," he said.

"In 2016, New Zealand and Egypt will serve together on the Security Council. In Cairo discussions will focus on mutual security concerns like Syria, and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), as well as gaining an Egyptian perspective on the MEPP."

In Cyprus, he would hear from key players on the island's divisions and encourage progress in the negotiations, which had recently resumed.

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