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Clinton Visit: US Exercises Not Expected To Resume

US SOS Clinton Visit: Resumption Of US Military Exercises Not Expected

By Carl Suurmond

In a briefing to media before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming two-day visit to New Zealand senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials yesterday said they were not expecting an announcement of a resumption of exercises with US forces.

US exercises with NZ forces under the ANZUS agreement were suspended in 1985 when the then Labour Government announced a ban on nuclear powered or armed ship visits.

MFAT Officials said yesterday that they were not expecting any announcements concerning a US review of the security and defense relationship with New Zealand during Mrs Clinton's visit.

In October 2009 Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell for East Asian and Pacific affairs said, in an interview on TVNZ's Q&A, that a review, covering many aspects of New Zealand’s relationship with the US was underway (TRANSCRIPT, VIDEO).

He conceded that it was absurd that the two countries military forces could fight in the battlefield together, but could not train together because of a presidential directive.

The Assistant Secretary of State said Secretary Clinton wanted to work closer with New Zealand and that the US recognized there were areas were the two countries could work together on.

Yesterday Ministry officials said that there was no expectation that the US review was to be released during Mrs Clinton's visit. As it was not a bilateral review it was possible that it might never be released.

Officials said American defense officials are not expected to be traveling to New Zealand with Secretary Clinton. Moreover specific discussions about defense issues relating to the review were not on the agenda as this was not in Secretary Clinton's portfolio.

The highlight of the visit by the first senior member of the US Obama Administration to visit NZ will be the signing of a diplomatic exchange "secondment" program.

The program, said to be a sign of closer ties between NZ and the US, will give NZ diplomats posted to the Washington embassy the opportunity to spend 12 months working at the US State Department. In exchange US diplomats posted to the Wellington embassy will be seconded to MFAT, for the same length of time.

The secondment program, to be signed on the Friday, will see NZ join the ranks of a few selected countries which also have the same arrangement with the US.

Security and diplomatic issues including the situations in Afghanistan, Burma and North Korea were subjects that officials said were likely to be discussed in Secretary Clinton's first visit to the country.

Other areas of discussion expected to be on the agenda include: terrorism, Yemen, climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues and Asia Pacific regional issues.

Secretary Clinton will also attend a virtual opening of an Antarctic Wind Farm, a joint US, New Zealand project completed by Meridian Energy in December 2009.


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