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Cablegate: Nz Defense Minister Comments On Military Rebuilding and The

VZCZCXRO0051
RR RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHWL #0145/01 1192002
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 282002Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5208
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1659
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 5164
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0668
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000145

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR STATE FOR EAP/PD,EAP/P,EAP/ANP
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO IO NZ
SUBJECT: NZ DEFENSE MINISTER COMMENTS ON MILITARY REBUILDING AND THE
U.S.-N.Z. RELATIONSHIP

WELLINGTON 00000145 001.2 OF 002


1. BEGIN SUMMARY: On April 27 New Zealand's Defense Minister Phil
Goff was interviewed on the Sunday
morning current affairs program "Agenda TV".

Minister Goff emphasized that New Zealand is pouring billions of
dollars into rebuilding its defense
capacity and he focused on the cooperative dynamic of
the bilateral relationship.

In response to questioning he expressed frustration
about the delay receiving approval to sell the A-4s
and reiterated a long-standing invitation for the U.S.
to send a ship to New Zealand.

The program also featured an arts segment highlighting
an exhibition on shared U.S.-N.Z. history; an
exhibition on the many positive memories of the
presence of U.S. Marines in New Zealand during WW II
that received its seed funding from Embassy
Wellington's grants budget. END SUMMARY.

2. THE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

Defense Minister Goff noted U.S-N.Z. cooperation
saying, "We've got New Zealanders on American ships at
the moment in the Pacific doing humanitarian work, we
have cooperation over proliferation security
initiatives, we have very close cooperation over the Pacific where
the United States has said that it
relies on New Zealand and Australia to do the work
that we're doing in Timor-Leste in the Solomons and
Tonga and so on."

On the nuclear issue, the Minister referenced comments
by Secretary Rice and refocused on cooperation
"...that's the rock in the road. What, as Condoleezza
Rice has said recently, we're working our way around
the rock in the road at the moment, we're working
quite closely with the United States where our
objectives are the same, whether it be in humanitarian disaster
relief, Afghanistan, proliferation Security Initiative and so on."

3. DEFENSE BUDGET INCREASES

Minister Goff emphasized that New Zealand continues to rebuild its
defense force "both in terms of equipment
and in terms of personnel" noting that New Zealand is
"836 defense personnel up on where we were three or
four years ago " and that he was "talking about the increases of
literally tens of millions of dollars
each year going into the budget."

Goff says he thinks "New Zealanders would feel that
we're spending enough on defense. In the long term development plan
we put in 3.3 billion dollars over
10 years, in the defense sustainability initiative
both these plans running over 10 years we put in 4.4 billion
dollars."

The Minister also took the opportunity to announce an increase to
defense pay packets aimed at staff
retention. "It will on average be about 10% ...some will
get significantly more than the 10% but the biggest
number of people will get around the 10 to 12%."

4. SKYHAWKS

In response to questioning and the assertion that the
sale of New Zealand's A-4s "has been a complete
failure" the Minister expressed frustration and made
a nod at the fiscal implications saying:

"You know that what holds it up is an American process whereas we
cannot sell the A-4s without the approval
of Congress, the problem is within their system, it's
very frustrating for us, I've got 125 million dollars sitting there,
I've got potentially two buyers within
the United States, we can sell as soon as the Congress
and the State Department give approval. For reasons internal to
their system that I can't go into in
detail we have had that on hold, that is not the fault
of New Zealand there is nothing more...(interrupted by journalist)

5. SHIP INVITATION REITERATED


WELLINGTON 00000145 002.2 OF 002


The Minister was asked to confirm that there's a
standing invitation for a U.S. ship to visit New
Zealand and was asked to re-issue that invitation.
Asked "if the United States proposed to send a non
nuclear armed, non nuclear powered vessel to New
Zealand before the election, and I emphasize before
the election, would you say yes both to the visit and
the timing and would you welcome it at the wharf?"

Minister Goff replied: "Yes, they are welcome to come
and have been welcome to come over the last many years
on the same conditions that any other vessel from any
other navy in the world comes. We make a judgment as
to whether it's likely to be nuclear powered or armed.
We know that the only surface vessels in the American
Navy that are nuclear powered for example are aircraft
Carriers; we know that surface ships don't carry
nuclear weapons. The invitation is there for the
Americans as with the Brits or the French or for that
matter any other country that comes, to come on that
basis. The ball is in their court...I've said that on
many occasions. People have said would the American
Navy be welcome here and I always say yes on the same
basis as we welcome the other navies. We make a
judgment as to whether it meets our legislation, I'm
sure all their surface ships but the aircraft carriers
meet those requirements, the United States is aware
that they could ask for a vessel to com at any time,
but that is their call at this point."

6. A full transcript is available at:
http://www.agendatv.co.nz/Site/agenda/transcr ipts/
2008/Apirl 1-27.aspx

Keegan

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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