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Cablegate: New Zealand's Priorities for Upcoming Pacific

VZCZCXRO7293
OO RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0751/01 2841900
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111900Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4795
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 4985
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0694
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0661

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000751

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/ANP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/11/2017
TAGS: PREL KDEM NZ
SUBJECT: NEW ZEALAND'S PRIORITIES FOR UPCOMING PACIFIC
ISLAND FORUM (PIF) MEETINGS


Classified By: Pol/Econ Counselor Margaret McKean; Reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d)

1. (C) Summary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade's (MFAT) Pacific Division views Fiji's return to
democracy, the status of RAMSI in the Solomon Islands, and
support for the Regional Integrated Framework (RIF) as the
GNZ's key issues for discussion at the PIF. New Zealand
worries that Fijian leader Frank Bainamarama, absent strong
external pressure, will continue to delay elections and use
his people's charter initiative to establish an alternative
political process. New Zealand is concerned about Solomon
Island's PM Sogavare's absence from the PIF and the SI's lack
of support for RAMSI; the GNZ worries that the SI may be more
difficult an issue at the PIF than Fiji. New Zealand
maintains that the RIF is the best mechanism by which the
goals of the Pacific Plan can be realized. End Summary.

Fiji, Solomons: Both Problematic Issues
----------------------------------------

2. (U) On October 9, Pol/Econ Counselor met with John Adank
of MFAT's Pacific Division to discuss GNZ priorities at the
upcoming PIF meetings in Tonga. Adank attended the senior
officials meeting in Tonga in late September, and will be
accompanying PM Clark to the PIF meetings in Tonga next week.
The GNZ delegation will consist of about 18 people, he said.
Three main issues will dominate the leaders' agenda at the
meetings, he continued.

3. (C) The primary issue remains Fiji and a return to
democracy, said Adank. The PIF will be the first time since
December of last year that the Pacific Island leaders will
have the opportunity to take stock of what the PIF has
accomplished. Much of the dynamic for how this issue is
treated in Tonga will be determined by the makeup of the Fiji
delegation sent to Tonga. Adank discounted press stories
claiming that PM Helen Clark will meet with Frank Bainamarama
in Tonga, saying that it was "unlikely" that Clark would hold
bilateral meetings with the Fiji military leader or any of
his ministers. Although Bainamarama has spoken publicly
about coming to Tonga, Adank said that the sense at the
senior officials meeting in Tonga two weeks ago was that
Bainamarama might not show up. Irrespective, New Zealand
remains concerned that Bainamarama is not committed to
carrying out the election timetable and may use his people's
charter initiative to set up an alternative political
process. New Zealand recognizes that there are internal
political fault lines (e.g., Fijian vs. Indian) within Fiji,
but these must be handled by a legitimate government.
Bainamarama, on the other hand, would rather address Fiji's
internal divisions first but lacks the popular mandate and
legitimacy that an elected government has to deal with
national reconciliation and other problems.

4. (C) Adank noted that the Solomon Islands continue to
pose problems for both New Zealand and Australia; Adank said
that the SI may be an even more difficult issue at the PIF
than Fiji. The SI government has indicated that Sogavare
will not attend at the leadership level. Foreign Minister
Patterson Oti will come, but Sogavare's boycott will have a
negative impact on discussions. Of greatest concern to New
Zealand is the SI government's lack of support for the
Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
Sogavare has been critical of RAMSI, despite a PIF-mandated
review's conclusions that were in support of the assistance
mission. Although Australia has borne the largest share of
the criticism, Adank said that the Solomon Islands was not
paying due regard to the investment in RAMSI by other Pacific
Island states and the PIF. PM Clark has tried to call PM
Sogavare but to no avail. New Zealand believes that Papua
New Guinea (PNG) will play an important role in how the PIF
handles SI's complaints about RAMSI, offered Adank. Adank
explained that at the senior officials meeting in Tonga two
weeks ago, the PNG High Commissioner from Suva made clear
that he was very unhappy that the SI had abruptly canceled a
consultation meeting on RAMSI. New Zealand had hoped that
the PIF would provide an unqualified endorsement of RAMSI,
but without Sogavare's participation, it is unclear whether
the meeting can discourage the PM from further attempts to
undermine and discredit RAMSI.

RIF -- Best Hope for the Pacific Plan to Succeed
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (C) New Zealand will continue to press for acceptance of
the Regional Integrated Framework (RIF) at the PIF, said
Adank. Senior officials at the planning meeting in Tonga did

WELLINGTON 00000751 002 OF 002


not reach consensus; however, the outstanding issues were
identified and included in a letter. The GNZ, continued
Adank, believes that it should be possible to address the key
issues (mostly surrounding fisheries), and recognizes there
are entrenched interests among those island nations where
various regional agencies (e.g., Samoan concern over the
future of the South Pacific Regional Economic Program) are
headquartered.

6. (C) Adank said he understood USG concerns surrounding
legal issues and possible budgetary increases. Adank
acknowledged that if the RIF were to go forward, there would
be legal questions but that fact alone should not preclude
its consideration. There may have to be changes to some
underlying treaties, but if doing so provides better regional
coordination and delivery of services, then that should be
the overriding consideration. New Zealand, continued Adank,
believes that the RIF is a way to re-organize resources and
agencies into a more coherent whole. The U.S. does not need
to increase budgetary amounts unless it is the USG interest
to do so, he affirmed.

7. (C) Adank said that the only way the Pacific Plan is to
have greater promise for success is to press forward with the
RIF. He urged the USG to support the initiative,
underscoring that the issue was very important to New Zealand.

KEEGAN

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