Cablegate: Pm Clark Says Visit to Washington Is About Cooperation,

DE RUEHWL #0227/01 0730539
R 140539Z MAR 07





E.O. 12985: N/A
SUBJECT: PM Clark Says Visit to Washington is about Cooperation,
not Criticism

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During Parliamentary Question time on Wednesday,
March 14, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was bombarded with
questions (from Parliamentary friends and foes) regarding her
upcoming visit to Washington. Clark was asked about Climate Change,
the US Human Rights record at Guantanamo Bay and whether she would
raise Iraq in her meeting with the President. The Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister also took the opportunity to make a couple of
general, positive observations about the trip and state the PM's
intention to "focus on progressing areas for cooperation." END

Climate Change - The President is Engaged

2. (U) The Prime Minister fielded multiple questions (from the
Greens and from Minister Peters' Party, NZ First) about whether she
would discuss Climate Change with the President. Here is our edited
version of the PM's comments from the official transcript.

I am perfectly happy to advise the President of what New Zealand is
doing with its aspirations to be truly sustainable and carbon
neutral in time. I would observe that the President contributed
fully to a discussion at APEC around issues of better energy
efficiency, more energy security, and investing in the sorts of
technologies that would be helpful over time.

As I said I have participated in a discussion around these issues in
a forum with the President present and fully participating. It is my
belief and it is the Government's view that we do need the major
emitters on board to make a real difference, and that our
contribution, although of course important to us because we want to
be seen as a good international citizen-and to be one-is critical. I
am mindful that even a large industrial economy such as the British
one contributes only around 2 percent of global greenhouse gas
emissions, and so we really are looking over time for the United
States, China, India, and other large economies with a lot of
emissions to come in.

Criticizing U.S. Human Rights is a "Two-edged Sword"
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (U) Asked by several MP's whether she would raise Human
Rights/Guantanamo Bay Clark described the issue of Human Rights as a
two-edged sword. She noted the recent release of the State
Departments' Human Rights' Report-instead of taking issue with its
findings she used it to her advantage.

I have participated in discussions involving President Bush around
energy, security, and climate change in APEC within the last 4
months, and I would observe that raising human rights issues is a
two-edged sword.

It is not on my agenda to raise issues of that kind with the
President. As I have already observed, raising human rights issues
is a two-edged sword.

It is the practice of the US State Department to issue each year a
report on human rights practices in other countries. The one for New
Zealand, released just recently, drew attention to the level of
violence against women. It drew attention to the poor socio-economic
status of indigenous people, to attacks on Jewish cemeteries in our
country, and to other issues. I observe that once one opens up
issues, then the comeback could be interesting.

I am sure that if New Zealand had had detainees at Guantanamo Bay,
as other friendly countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom
have had, the issue of Guantanamo Bay would be on my agenda. It is
not because we have not.

Iraq not on the Agenda

4. (U) In answer to questions on Iraq and what she would say to the
President on Iraq the Prime Minister repeatedly said it was not on
her agenda. In response to the first question of the day the Prime
Minister said, "I have made it clear that Iraq is not on my agenda
to raise." She stuck to her line when the subject was raised by the
National party: "I refer the member to the first answer that I gave
when I said that Iraq was not on my agenda to raise."

Focus on Common-sense Cooperation

5. (U) On a more general note the Prime Minister Clark stressed
that, "The time for such meetings is always limited, and my
intention is to focus on progressing areas for cooperation".
Minister Peters' made a comment (disguised as a question) that "when
one spends all one's time criticising one's host, the opportunity
for the host to have any regard for one's views is severely limited"

WELLINGTON 00000227 002 OF 002

and the Prime Minister described this as a "highly common-sense

6. (SBU) Comment. One noteworthy aspect of today's question time was
the silence of the major opposition National Party. Separately, they
told DCM and POL/ECON Counsellor that they considered it
inappropriate to trivialize the PM's upcoming trip by politicizing
it. Today's exchanges reminded us of a number of incidents in recent
months, which we have reported, in which PM Clark has made it clear
that she will not engage in verbal sparring with the U.S. Even when
offered almost every hot-button issue, she has steadfastly insisted
that she will focus on cooperation.

© Scoop Media

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