Well, good afternoon, everyone, and join me, please, in welcoming Foreign Minister McCully to the State Department. We’ve had the opportunity to talk on several occasions and reaffirm the strong partnership between the United States and New Zealand which has enhanced peace and prosperity in the Pacific and beyond for many years. We have two nations that share democratic values, common historical, economic, and cultural ties, and we’re working to meet a lot of the regional and global challenges together.
It would take too long to list everything that demonstrates this partnership. But for example, our soldiers serve side by side in Afghanistan. Our businesses and entrepreneurs are working side by side to create jobs and opportunity. We are working so hard with enhancing our collaboration in laboratories and classrooms. So this is a dynamic and durable partnership. And I’m very pleased that President Obama has nominated David Huebner to be the new ambassador for the United States to New Zealand and Samoa. If confirmed, I am confident that he will help to strengthen and deepen our partnership even further.
Today we talked about a wide range of matters. I thanked the foreign minister for New Zealand’s leadership in the aftermath of last week’s Pacific tsunami. They immediately sent much-needed humanitarian aid, closely coordinating with the United States, Australia, France, and the nations of the region to get assistance to those most directly affected. This response is representative of New Zealanders’ compassion and their commitment to international cooperation.
New Zealand troops are participating in crucial peacekeeping missions around the world. They’re helping to build a more stable and peaceful Afghanistan. We’re grateful for their service and sacrifice. And we also appreciate New Zealand’s efforts to combat nuclear proliferation and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. New Zealand is a leader in international development and global health. And I know that New Zealand has pledged to provide 10 percent of its H1N1 vaccine stock to developing countries, in partnership with the United States and other donor nations.
I also want to applaud New Zealand’s leadership on behalf of our efforts to combat climate change, to reduce greenhouse gases, particularly in the agricultural sector, building on more than 50 years of scientific cooperation in Antarctica. Researchers from New Zealand and the United States are studying the effects of climate change on the polar ice caps and helping to provide critical information as the world works together to meet this global challenge.
So all in all, it’s a great pleasure for me to welcome the minister and I look forward to a very positive level of cooperation in the weeks, months, and years to come. FOREIGN MINISTER MCCULLY:
Thank you, Madame Secretary. It’s been a real pleasure to have this opportunity to meet again with Secretary Clinton. I’ve been in Washington for a couple of days, attending what we call the U.S.-New Zealand Partnership Forum, a collection of leading business people and political leaders from New Zealand and the United States who work together to try and advance the relationship across the many spheres that the Secretary of State has referred to.
Madame Secretary, can I say thank you for sending us an ambassador which, as you say, will serve to give us further impetus and momentum in a relationship that is already working very successfully indeed.
Today, we had the opportunity to reflect on the speedy and effective response that both of us – both nations brought to the tragic tsunami event in Samoa, an area – part of the world where both New Zealand and the United States have responsibilities. In particular, I welcome the fact that our services worked so closely and cooperatively in dealing with those events. We discussed today also the partnership that we have in bringing renewable energy to the small pacific nations, an initiative that is going to assist them economically, but also make a significant contribution to dealing with the swift climate change.
We also discussed our partnership in Antarctica, a very old partnership indeed, and I was able to update Secretary Clinton on the wind turbine, which we have under construction as we speak. This should be open early next year, which will generate renewable energy for the New Zealand and U.S. bases on that continent.
I also took the opportunity to thank the Secretary of State for the leadership that the United States provides in so many areas of world activity that are important to New Zealand. I was able to thank Secretary Clinton for the leadership that’s being shown in relation to nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation and pledged to support the work that she and President Obama have undertaken in this truly important area, an area that New Zealand does wish to support strongly.
In relation to world events, we support the work that the U.S. has been engaged in to provide stability for the world economy in these challenging times, and of course, the steps that the U.S. is undertaking to ensure that we fight terrorism wherever it is. In particular, we reflected on our partnership and work together in Afghanistan, where we worked together to try and assure that there is stability and security to provide for the reconstruction work that needs to occur there.
We are, in New Zealand, very conscious of the fact that so often, the United States is asked to step up and bear a disproportionate share of the burden of doing the difficult things in the world, and I was very pleased to have an opportunity to thank Secretary Clinton on behalf of New Zealanders for all of those things.
So all in all, we celebrate today a relationship that is in great shape, that is moving forward strongly, and I again appreciate this opportunity to visit and to reflect on the work that we have ahead of us.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you. Thank you very much, Minister.MR. KELLY:
Questions? The first question to Jill Dougherty from CNN.QUESTION:
Madame Secretary, thank you very much, good to see you. There are some in the Administration here in Washington who believe that the U.S. could, under certain circumstances, work with some elements of the Taliban in an Afghan government. Do you agree with that? And do you think that the Taliban are a direct threat to the United States? Are they a direct threat to the people of Afghanistan? Or does it really make any difference? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, Jill, as you know, we are in the midst of a very thorough analysis of all of our assumptions about how best to achieve our core goals of protecting our country, our interests, and our friends and allies from the scourge of terrorism that emanates from that region of the world.
And I’m not going to preempt or prejudge where this analysis comes out, except to say that we are looking at every possible question that can be raised, including the ones that you just asked, in order to determine the smartest approach for the President to adopt so that we can go to the American people and explain clearly what our goals are and the strategies and tactics that we have determined to follow in order to achieve those goals.QUESTION:
Can I have a follow-up, just (inaudible)? Secretary Clinton, women’s rights are very important to you. And in – if the Taliban were to continue the way they have in the past – controlling certain villages, et cetera – you’d have to say that it would be a very bad situation for women. Do you believe that that is a threat at this point, if you were to go along with that theory that the Taliban should be allowed to control certain areas, maybe be part of the government? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, Jill, I haven’t gone along with any theory and I haven’t answered any hypothetical, so I think I’ll just leave it at that.MR. KELLY:
The lady in the front row.QUESTION:
Hi. I’m Fran O’Sullivan from The New Zealand Herald
. It’s been very interesting, Secretary Clinton, to watch close up your engagement on the international sphere, and particularly the new era for Washington and the U.S., which our foreign minister has heralded.
As you seek to reach out to the new partners, what real role do you see for New Zealand at a more substantive level going forward, and particularly in the areas of defense, in the areas of security, in the areas of the Pacific, and more particularly in East Asia, where there is still a vacuum in leadership, which I think China at this stage is filling at perhaps the U.S. detriment?SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, we very much value New Zealand’s partnership and its leadership in all of the areas that you just mentioned. We are resuming our intelligence-sharing cooperation, which we think is very significant. We believe that New Zealand has a particular ability to assist us in looking at the broad range of challenges that we face. We’re looking to New Zealand to really lead the way in dealing with climate change and clean energy, both of which we think are not only an environmental issue, but a national security issue.
We discussed in our meeting the energy development program that the minister is very focused on, which I fully support, to help the Pacific Island nations move away from their dependence on imported oil and petroleum products. When it comes to what we’re doing together in Afghanistan, we consider New Zealand a full partner at the table. Your special forces, the SAS, are among the very best that are deployed. And we want to learn from, we want New Zealand to take the lead on in this review that we’re undergoing to determine how we can best deploy not just American assets, but international assets, and most importantly, Afghan assets.
We also are working with New Zealand on a range of global concerns like nonproliferation. We think New Zealand has a particularly credible voice in the world community on nonproliferation, and there will be a bilateral discussion between our two countries on those issues. So I could go on and on, but the list is long and the model that New Zealand represents, its commitment to playing an international role, punching above its weight, so to speak, is something that we highly value.QUESTION:
That includes China?SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, I think that the Pacific region includes New Zealand and China, and it includes the United States. I mean, one of the messages that I sent early on in my tenure was that the United States was back, that there was some feeling among countries in the Pacific region that the United States had receded. Well, there should be no doubt of that. In fact, earlier today, I did a videoconference with our chiefs of mission from all of the countries in the Greater Pacific Region. And we are committed to our relationships on a bilateral basis, but also multilateral. I appreciated the minister coming to a meeting I hosted in New York of Pacific Island nations. We saw one another at ASEAN in the regional forum in Phuket, Thailand. So it’s about our bilateral, it’s about our multilateral, it’s about the region, and it’s about global. So I’m very pleased to have this very good relationship get even better. QUESTION:
Just on Afghanistan, you mentioned (inaudible). And we have recommitted our (inaudible) troops there at a time when the United States is still making up its mind over what its next action should be. What message do you have to New Zealanders about why we should be confident that the step we have taken as a small nation is the right one? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, because number one, we are committed to Afghanistan. We are committed to achieving our goals in Afghanistan. What we are doing is taking a very hard scrub of everything that has been done for eight years. We’ve been here for eight months. We are committed to an international effort. We are committed to a civilian-military effort. But we want to make sure that everything we do maximizes progress toward the goals which we share.
So the fact that New Zealand is committed – I want New Zealanders to know the United States is committed. We are committed in great numbers, but we value deeply the contributions of New Zealand. We just want to be sure that when we send a young man or woman from the New Zealand or United States military that we are putting them into Afghanistan with the maximum capacity to be successful in the mission that we share. So I am grateful for New Zealand’s contribution, and I want New Zealanders to know that. MR. KELLY:
Last question to Lachlan Carmichael of AFP. QUESTION:
Madame Secretary, you’re – hello. SECRETARY CLINTON:
Hello, Lachlan. QUESTION:
You’re bound for Moscow next week and – SECRETARY CLINTON:
Are you coming? QUESTION:
Yes, I’ll be on the plane with you. So I just wanted to know – President Medvedev’s statement in New York about sanctions sometimes being inevitable, do you see that as a change of heart for Moscow, or is it something more ambiguous and therefore you will seek clarification when you see him in Moscow? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, I don’t want to characterize President Medvedev’s comments because I think he has said that more than once. And certainly, the cooperation that we are seeing from our Russian partners in the P-5+1 context is very encouraging. We will certainly be discussing Iran. We will certainly be looking at the options that we have to explore going forward from what was a positive, but not conclusive meeting in Geneva.
And I have a very broad agenda with Minister Lavrov. And it’s both a bilateral agenda on some of the big ticket items, like Iran and other places, but it’s also the first formal meeting of the bilateral strategic dialogue that our two presidents announced at the Moscow summit. So we’re going to be talking about a broad range of issues. And I’m looking forward to really understanding more clearly what we’re going to be doing together. QUESTION:
But just to clarify, do you need to clarify their position on sanctions? Is that an important aspect of the visit? SECRETARY CLINTON:
Well, I think that the dual track that we’re pursuing with Iran is a constant discussion not only with Russia, but with all of likeminded and other international partners about what we’re going to do to make sure that Iran fulfills its obligations. So I don’t want to characterize what President Medvedev said. We’re going to get down to talking about, well, what’s the next steps, and we’ll have more to do as that goes forward. QUESTION:
Thank you. MR. KELLY:
Thanks very much.SECRETARY CLINTON:
Thank you all very much.