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Cablegate: Us and New Zealand On the Same Page Regarding Cuba

VZCZCXYZ0013
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWL #0073 0581919
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271919Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5102
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0394
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5120
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 0061
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0293
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0699

C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000073

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/ANP, WHA FO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL NZ CU
SUBJECT: US AND NEW ZEALAND ON THE SAME PAGE REGARDING CUBA

REF: STATE 18306

Classified By: Acting DCM Margaret McKean; Reason: 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) On February 27, A/DCM met with MFAT Deputy Secretary
John McArthur to deliver demarche points. A/DCM noted that
the handover to Raul Castro would not constitute systemic
change; only elections and improvement in human rights will
signal meaningful progress towards democracy. McArthur
agreed with the USG message, noting that the change was
anticipated over a year ago when Castro's brother took power
temporarily from the ailing Cuban leader. Even with his
brother officially in charge, McArthur predicted that Fidel
Castro would continue to wield influence from the behind the
scenes. He referred to PM Helen Clark's comments regarding
Raul Castro's selection by the Cuban Assembly, in which the
PM noted that Fidel Castro's decision to step down had not
come as a surprise, and that Fidel Castro's continued
influence "is to be expected." The Deputy Secretary
summarized New Zealand's position on the Cuban leadership
transition by saying that the US and New Zealand "are on the
same page."

2. (C) McArthur reminded A/DCM that NZ-Cuban bilateral ties
are minimal and dominated by NZ dairy exports, which comprise
an estimated 70 percent of the milk drunk in Cuba. He noted
that the GNZ's interest in Cuba is designed to protect those
trade links as well as to maintain a communication mechanism
for discussion of human rights and other topics. The Cuban
government engages in limited educational exchange programs
in New Zealand, he added. New Zealand does not maintain a
Embassy in Havana; rather, Cuba is covered by GNZ diplomats
in Mexico. Cuba's mission in Wellington was only established
late last year, consisting of its Ambassador, Jose Luis
Robaina Garcia. McArthur informed us that a Cuban delegation
will be visiting New Zealand in mid-March as part of an Asian
tour. Head of the delegation will be Ruben Perez Valdes,
Ambassador and Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific
Division. McArthur speculated that the visit may coincide
with the official opening of the Cuban Embassy in Wellington,
adding that a Deputy Chief of Mission is also slated to
arrive in the near future.

3. (C) A/DCM thanked the Deputy Secretary for his response,
noting that the US Embassy appreciates updates on the Cuban
mission's activities. McArthur offered that the Cuban
government's decision to open a mission in either Australia
or New Zealand had been predicated on a desire to conduct
greater outreach to the Pacific island nations. To date,
however, the GNZ has not detected an uptick in activities, he
said.
MCCORMICK

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