Well, good morning, and welcome to the Treaty Room. It’s a great pleasure for us to have this opportunity to meet with Foreign Minister McCully and his delegation. The United States and New Zealand have a long history of partnership, and today we had the opportunity to discuss a broad range of issues.
Five months ago, just as we were electing a new president, our friends in New Zealand elected a new government led by Prime Minister John Key. And we’re off to a great start together. The U.S.-New Zealand relationship is the best it has been in 25 years, and we look forward to building on the progress we have already made.
New Zealand is such a valued partner. It is a country whose values and interests coincide very often with ours. In Afghanistan, its elite Special Air Services troops distinguished themselves early on, and New Zealand’s leadership of the Bamiyan Provincial Reconstruction Team has been a model for other nations.
In the Pacific region, New Zealand is a leading member of the Pacific Islands Forum, and Mr. McCully has noted that Prime Minister Key’s government will be intensifying their activities and commitments in the region.
If his travel during the last few months is any indication, the minister is certainly a man of his word. I understand he’s already visited six Pacific island nations.
Like New Zealand, the United States is a Pacific nation, and we look forward to collaborating with New Zealand in regional initiatives to protect the environment, promote democracy, ensure regional security, preserve human rights, encourage good governance, further economic development, and promote renewable energy.
We join New Zealand in encouraging Fiji’s interim government to abide by the Pacific Islands Forum’s benchmarks and timetable to restore democracy to that country. We share a common determination that democracy must not be extinguished there.
As original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty, the United States and New Zealand have enjoyed close cooperation in the Antarctica for half a century. Yesterday, along with other treaty members, Minister McCully and I participated in a ministerial meeting to mark the 50th
anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty. And I just thanked the minister for one of their government energy companies supplying wind energy to our facility, so we’ll have renewable energy way down at the South Pole. That’s pretty exciting, Minister McCully.
Now, in addition to these many areas of collaboration, today the minister and I will be signing an arrangement to combat nuclear smuggling. And I want to thank the minister and his government for their commitment to address this global threat. This is a prime example of how our two countries share a vision and work collaboratively on issues of common concern.
So again, I am pleased to welcome Minister McCully here in Washington. This makes his seventh Pacific nation that he has visited. And I hope sometime during my time as Secretary of State I will have the opportunity to visit your beautiful country. Thank you, sir.FOREIGN MINISTER MCCULLY:
Thank you, Madame Secretary. As the Secretary of State has indicated, it was approximately five months ago that new administrations took office in both the United States and in New Zealand. The relationship has seen significant improvements over recent years, and as a party in opposition, my party was pleased to work with the then-government to try and advance the New Zealand relationship with the United States. Now, having assumed office, we have the opportunity to try and move that relationship forward, and I’ve been greatly encouraged by the approach that Secretary of State Clinton has taken in our discussions today.
As she has noted, we work together in so many different areas of importance. The initial purpose of this visit was the Antarctic discussions yesterday, an area where we have had a partnership for now 50 years, one which has been a remarkable success in every possible way. We are close partners in the work that is being done in Afghanistan, and we had the opportunity to review those matters today. Of course, those are areas where there has been a good deal of discussion, not just in the United States but in The Hague, where Secretary Clinton and I were both last week.
We work together in so many different aspects, but I want to mention in particular the reengagement of this country in the multilateral fora, which we have greatly encouraged, and we are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Administration here in that respect.
Finally, with regard to the Pacific, a large expanse of ocean, some small nations that are highly vulnerable in every possible way – economically, the first to feel the effects of climate change – we have discussed today some opportunities for us to work more closely together providing leadership in that region. It’s an area with which New Zealand is closely familiar. We have a large Pacifica population in our country. We have close family links, close links of every possible sort – a unique opportunity to render assistance to the smaller nations of the Pacific and therefore a particular responsibility. And today, we have looked at some of the ways in which we can cooperate in that respect, particularly in terms of renewable energy.
So I’ve had a very important first meeting with Secretary of State Clinton today. The two new administrations have the opportunity to bring new energy and new eyes to a relationship which has already seen significant improvement. And we will be working closely in the months ahead to get that relationship moving in that direction.
Thank you very much.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you, Minister. Now we’re going to sign the agreement.MODERATOR:
The Secretary and Foreign Minister are now signing the Arrangement between the Department of Energy of the United States of America and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand for Cooperation on Nonproliferation Assistance.
(The agreement was signed.)
Speaking of nonproliferation, it’s been more than 72 hours since the North Korean rocket launch. The UN Security Council has yet to give even the mildest kind of condemnation for it. Why shouldn’t Kim Jong-il conclude that his regime can act with impunity in conducting these kinds of launches?SECRETARY CLINTON:
Let’s wait and see the results of the ongoing negotiations at the United Nations. Seventy-two hours is a long time in a news cycle. It’s not a long time in relations between nations or in the affairs of the Security Council. I think we’ll have more to say later.QUESTION: