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Government officials hope Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf's three-day visit to New Zealand will open new trade opportunities.

But moves towards democracy and anti-terrorism policies in Pakistan will also be under discussion.

Relations are currently described as "friendly but slight" and up to now there has been little attempt to increase trade, which is running at exports worth $24.4 million a year and imports worth $67 million.

New Zealand's engagement with the nation of 146 million people has been equally minimal -- when Foreign Minister Phil Goff went there in August last year it was the first high-level visit since a trip by Mike Moore in 1990.

President Musharraf is bringing his education and commerce ministers with him, as well as a business delegation including representatives of companies with interests in agricultural machinery and natural gas technology.

Those areas of potential trade will be explored, as will education. At present there are only about 50 Pakistani students in New Zealand, although the cost to them is significantly less than in Britain where most tend to go.

New Zealand officials say there is work to be done to identify trade opportunities and expand educational links, and admit that not much effort has gone in so far.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will hold talks with President Musharraf on Friday after an official welcome at Old Government House in Auckland.

She said yesterday Pakistan's moves towards democracy and the proliferation of nuclear weapons on the Indian sub-continent were two issues high on the agenda.

International terrorism, and Pakistan's commitment to fighting it, will also be under discussion.

New Zealand has particular interest in Pakistan's neighbour, Afghanistan, where troops are deployed.

"We have people in Afghanistan who are intensely interested in how it moves towards stability and I think Pakistan has a perspective that would be of great interest to us," Helen Clark said.

President Musharraf, who is also a general and chief of the army, seized power in a bloodless coup in October 1999 after years of political unrest.

Pakistan was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth as a result of the coup, and did not return until May 2004 after moves began to restore democracy.

President Musharraf and Helen Clark will hold a joint press conference after their talks on Friday, and on Saturday the delegation will visit information technology businesses and a dairy farm.

Pakistan is the world's sixth largest producer of milk, although it exports only a small percentage.

The visit ends on Sunday.

- NZPA