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PM says NZ wouldn’t have an issue with US drone strikes

PM says NZ wouldn’t have an issue with US drone strikes against terrorists in Iraq

The Prime Minister John Key told TV1’s Q+A programme that he would not have an issue if the US went ahead with drone strikes on the terrorist group ISIL (ISIS) in Iraq.

“We've effectively designated them to be a terrorist, and secondly because the only way they'd go in there would be at the invitation of the Iraqi government and in fact the Iraqi government have been calling on the Americans to do that.”

“ISIL who are the terrorist group who are really fighting the Iraqi government at the moment, they have been designated by New Zealand as a terrorist group. So think about it in these terms - I mean if there was for instance a drone strike in Iraq I don’t think the Americans would come to us and say New Zealand do you offer your moral support.”

“I guess my point is we're more than likely to be silent on the issue because we won’t be asked to necessarily offer a view, any more than we are asked to offer a view in Yemen, and that’s on-going, when we've been pitching for the Security Council seat. The one point I would say is I wouldn’t guarantee that there’ll be air strikes, or that there’ll be drone strikes. I can't rule that out obviously, but what I do know is that the President is seeing emerging before his eyes what looks a little bit like a civil war. Now if you take ISIL out of it, it's still a conflict based on religious tensions and on the exclusion of the Sunnis, and in the end I think what the Americans really want to see happen is the Iraqis take control of that situation. That’s really why Kerry's going to speak to the leaders in the region. That’s why he'll go and speak to Iraqi and the government. I think in the end the message is quite blunt one, it's really you need to form a more inclusive government, or this civil war will take place. And if that civil war takes place that’s not something America wants to pick sides on.”


John Key: NZ won’t sign up to TPP without economic gains for agriculture

The Prime Minister John Key told TV1’s Q+A programme that he’s confident President Obama will eventually get fast track approval from Congress for the Trans Pacific Partnership.

He says he wants Japan to stay in the talks, but won’t accept a deal that doesn’t bring significant economic benefits to NZ agriculture.

“What New Zealand wants to see is a high quality, comprehensive deal including all 12 partners. But our point is, if Japan got to a point where they said well there’ll be no liberalisation of agriculture for instance, we would say what would be the point of New Zealand being in part of that deal. And actually when Japan came in with Canada and with Mexico, it was made absolutely crystal clear to them, that they had to sign up to the Honolulu principles which were high level, comprehensive deal. You imagine if I was in the position where I had to go to the New Zealand public and say, there will be some changes around intellectual properties or SOEs, or other aspects that New Zealanders will have an interest in, but by the way we get no economic gains out of agriculture, I just don’t think that would fly in New Zealand.”

--

Q + A
Episode 16
JOHN KEY
Interviewed by CORIN DANN

SUSAN The Prime Minister's wrapped up his visit to Washington and New York with a meeting with America's top politician, President Barack Obama. Our Political Editor Corin Dann has followed John Key's trip to the United States and interviewed him shortly after his White House one on one where their meeting was longer than first scheduled. Corin started by asking what his relationship with President Obama is like.

JOHN KEY – Prime Minister
Well I genuinely think it reflects the warmth of the relationship and actually the personal friendship that we've managed to build up in kind of six years I've been Prime Minister and he's been President. And if you sort of contrast it was you know basically half an hour last time, an hour and 20 minutes this time. He took me into his back office and showed me that, took us for a walk around the garden and pointed out some of the highlights on the south lawn and all that sort of stuff. And I think that’s just that nice extra touch that two friends kind of had. I don’t want to overstate things but really it's a great relationship and fantastic heart at the moment.

CORIN Clearly the relationship is about as good as it's going to get, why not just be an ally?

JOHN In a way that would require us to re-invoke ANZUS and that would mean that to at least a degree wouldn’t quite have the independent foreign policy that people might cherish and want to have in New Zealand.

CORIN Do they still cherish that in New Zealand, because people under George Bush, there was a real sense of anti-Americanism. Has that changed? What's the,,, view now?

JOHN Yeah I suspect that has changed a little bit, but New Zealand's a young country but it is a proud country, and I think in its heart of hearts my sense of New Zealanders is they like to make the decision themselves. Now that doesn’t mean that they're not going to go and be involved in an environment if the Americans are there, and we genuinely believe it's legitimate and various other sort of factors. You know we have a strong link to America, and we've been great friends and in the vast bulk of conflicts or whatever activities we've been involved together, from peacekeeping right through to other initiatives. So I think it's not a matter of abandoning that, but I think we can almost have the best of both worlds, a very strong relationship with the United States but retain that independence that’s important.

CORIN But that’s why that issue of air strikes is so important. Was that discussed with President Obama.

JOHN Yeah, so the way you think about that is that we certainly discussed the air strikes, and certainly at length what's happening in Iraq, and then the first point is that there's absolutely no appetite to go back to a conventional war. It cost two to three trillion US dollars the last time they were there, it cost hundreds and thousands of lives. So you know a huge amount of human pain and suffering, and in the end are we much further ahead when something that looks a bit like a civil war these days that’s taking place. ISIL who are the terrorist group who are really you know fighting the Iraqi government at the moment, they have been designated by New Zealand as a terrorist group. So think about it in these terms - I mean if there was for instance a drone strike in Iraq I don’t think the Americans would come to us and say New Zealand do you offer your moral support.

CORIN After what we already consider they are terrorists.

JOHN Exactly, because we've effectively designated them to be a terrorist, and secondly because the only way they'd go in there would be at the invitation of the Iraqi government and in fact the Iraqi government have been calling on the Americans to do that.

CORIN So would that be no different than the Americans hitting Al Qaeda in Yemen?

JOHN Exactly, that’s exactly the position, so the Yemenese government have requested support from the Americans in the form of those drone strikes against Al Qaeda. And as you’ve seen in the past I haven't condemned that. You know far from it, I've actually said that those terrorists are undertaking literally terrorist activities.

CORIN So what you're saying to New Zealanders is that if the United States hits terrorists in Iraq with a drone strike it's just not the same as you know a war there?

JOHN Correct, because it would be at the invitation of the Iraqi government, against a designated terrorist group. I guess what I'm saying is, I just don’t think that they will go out to the rest of the world and count heads of people that support them in the sort of way that they did with the Iraq war – the coalition of the willing – because they needed to – because they were taking a unilateral action….

CORIN How do you end view that given its you know desire for multilateral action and of course then there's the endorsement from the Security Council.

JOHN Well I guess my point is we're more than likely to be silent on the issue because we won’t be asked to necessarily offer a view, any more than we are asked to offer a view in Yemen, and that’s ongoing, when we've been pitching for the Security Council seat. The one point I would say is I wouldn’t guarantee that there’ll be air strikes, or that there’ll be drone strikes. I can't rule that out obviously, but what I do know is that the President is seeing emerging before his eyes what looks a little bit like a civil war. Now if you take ISIL out of it, it's still a conflict based on religious tensions and on the exclusion of the Sunnis, and in the end I think what the Americans really want to see happen is the Iraqis take control of that situation. That’s really why Kerry's going to speak to the leaders in the region. That’s why he'll go and speak to Iraqi and the government. I think in the end the message is quite blunt one, it's really you need to form a more inclusive government, or this civil war will take place. And if that civil war takes place that’s not something America wants to pick sides on.

CORIN What happens when these drone strikes go wrong though? Does that make New Zealand responsible as well?

JOHN I don’t think so for the most part. I mean look in the end one of the great advantages of drone strikes are that they allow you to take action at no risk to you as the country that’s undertaking the drone strike.

CORIN There have been examples where they have killed civilians accidentally.

JOHN And that was going to be my point. The point is that they also sometimes go wrong and that’s a great tragedy. The point there is you know on balance of benefit if you like, are they more often right than they're wrong, I think the answer is yes. I mean in our world that we live in, the perfect world we'd love to see no conflict and people being able to sort out their issues diplomatically. The reality is that there is an extremist Islamic group and either in the form of Al Qaeda or ISIL in this case, and they are undertaking brutality in these countries, and at some point these governments are asking for support, and the support they're asking from is the United States.

CORIN In the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, can you clarify the position on Japan? A lot of controversy about its role in these talks. Do you want Japan to drop out?

JOHN No, what New Zealand wants to see is a high quality, comprehensive deal including all 12 partners. But our point is, if Japan got to a point where they said well there’ll be no liberalisation of agriculture for instance, we would say what would be the point of New Zealand being in part of that deal. And actually when Japan came in with Canada and with Mexico, it was made absolutely crystal clear to them, that they had to sign up to the Honolulu principles which were high level, comprehensive deal. You imagine if I was in the position where I had to go to the New Zealand public and say, there will be some changes around intellectual properties or SOEs, or other aspects that New Zealanders will have an interest in, but by the way we get no economic gains out of agriculture, I just don’t think that would fly in New Zealand.

CORIN Do you think President Obama can get that all important fast track authority to get this thing through Congress?

JOHN So a mixture of views about whether he actually does need fast track approval, although I'd be of the view that actually it would be beneficial. The general view is if they get to a point where there's a pretty good deal on the table, and that’s what's going to be required for the Republicans to vote for it, which is obviously not Obama's party. If that’s the point they get to they probably will give him TPA fast track approval.

CORIN Republicans I've spoken to say he needs to show more action on this.

JOHN Well I think the first thing is you’ve got the mid-term elections and I personally don’t think you will see a lot of movement between here and November, I think you'll see plenty of stuff behind the scenes. There's no question if we get to November and arguably the G20, and we get to a point where there's the realistic deal that could be there, President Obama is going to have to reach out to those various Senators and Congressmen, and on the Republic side, and ask them to support it. He's is going to have to schmooze them want of a better term. Though I think he'll do that. In the all the discussions I've had with him, I can tell you that one of the legacy items that he cares about is TPP because that’s all about growing the economy, just like it is for New Zealand, it is for the United States. We do these deals no because it's a fun thing to sign, but because it translates to jobs and higher standards of living.

CORIN President Obama talked about RIMPAC that military exercise and how we're now allowed to have our boat dock at the port in Pearl Harbour, and that’s a breakthrough in that whole anti-nuclear stance. Does that mean now we're likely to see a boat come to New Zealand? It's not going to happen. If the United States is not going to send a boat down here.

JOHN I don’t think you'd ever say there's no chance, we didn’t raise it this time, I think it's one of those things where look, I can't say at some point it wouldn’t evolve to that. It would require me as the Prime Minister, or whoever the Prime Minister of the day is to sign that piece of paper that says it's either not carrying nuclear weapons or not nuclear fuelled. But I think that’s possible one day. But these things are evolving now at quite a rapid rate, and the relationship's in such a great state that you just say if a ship came to New Zealand it would be nothing much more than symbolism.

CORIN Are we soon to change our legislation?

JOHN No we're not changing our legislation, and they're not asking us to do that, so in a way it's one of those things that is it really worth pushing hard on? I don’t think so, and that’s why I didn’t on this particular trip.


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