Cablegate: Message From Ambassador Swindells: Nz Foreign

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2015


Classified By: Ambassador Charles J. Swindells,
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C/NOFORN) New Zealand's Foreign Minister Phil Goff will
have three main objectives for his State Department, NSC,
Congressional, and other meetings next week: to assure
Washington officials that New Zealand values its relations
with the United States, to reinforce New Zealand's interest
in cooperating with us within Asia and beyond, and to
reiterate New Zealand's interest in a Free Trade Agreement
with the United States. Goff's visit provides the perfect
opportunity for the Administration to tell him with one voice
that we still regard New Zealand's nuclear ban as a negative
precedent for the region and a bar to strongest bilateral
ties. I recommend you cast this message in the context of a
broader one: we need to move away from the quid pro quo,
issue-by-issue approach that now characterizes U.S.-New
Zealand interactions and instead foster a wide-ranging,
forward-looking relationship built on shared values and
common interests. And we need a signal from the Kiwis that
they are interested in starting an all-inclusive dialogue on
how we can reach this goal.

2. (C/NOFORN) The United States has often reevaluated the
limits on our ties with New Zealand since the mid-80s, and we
have loosened restrictions when it has made sense to do so
(for example, our current look at joint military exercises
under the Proliferation Security Initiative). There has been
no parallel movement on the New Zealand side to take another
look at the nuclear ban, despite the legislation's continued
negative affect on bilateral relations, its negative impact
on the capabilities of the New Zealand Defence Force, and its
clear contribution to New Zealand's declining influence. We
of course recognize and appreciate New Zealand's
contributions in Afghanistan, the WTO, and elsewhere. But
Kiwi officials have clearly defined these efforts to the New
Zealand public as multilateral initiatives, with only the
most tentative of nods our way. We'd like that to change.

3. (C/NOFORN) Goff is a pragmatic and amiable interlocutor.
While still firmly devoted to the Labour Party, unlike many
of his Cabinet colleagues he has moved beyond being a 1960s
ideologue. His practical approach to problems has won him no
favors with the left-leaning Labour Caucus, and may even have
cost him any chance of Party leadership. Goff's sister is
married to an American, and Goff has chosen late May for his
trip to the United States so that he can participate in his
American citizen nephew's graduation from West Point (another
American nephew has been serving with U.S. forces in Iraq).
He has other American relatives as well. Goff is aware that
USG officials believe the New Zealand Government does not
place enough weight on its relationship with Washington. I
myself have stressed to him that unless all bilateral issues
are on the table for discussion, including the nuclear ban,
our ties will not be all that they can be. Embassy staff
have pointed out repeatedly to MFAT colleagues that the
absence of GNZ public acknowledgment of the importance of
United States-New Zealand ties is both noticeable and

4. (C/NOFORN) Goff will therefore want to stress to you New
Zealand's desire to continue to cooperate with us in a
variety of arenas. Chief among these is the war on
terrorism, and Goff will probably highlight in particular New
Zealand's continued provision of troops in Afghanistan as
well as through initiatives in Southeast Asia and the South
Pacific. As proof, Goff will likely tell you about his
Government's recent decision to increase military spending by
USD 3.3 billion over ten years. Although the investment is
not as much as we would ultimately like to see, forces had
been cut so much by previous National and Labour Governments
that it would be impossible to absorb a larger increase over
the shorter term. The Government's decision will at least
reverse what has been a decade-long decline in military
capabilities, and will make it possible for New Zealand to
live up to current peace-keeping and regional military
assistance commitments in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It
should also enable us to engage in the future in a broader
dialogue about regional security burdensharing, should New
Zealand be interested.

5. (C/NOFORN) Goff will want to discuss with you broad
developments in the Asia Pacific region. I believe The
Labour Government feels vulnerable to domestic criticism that
it is cozying up to dictators in China and elsewhere in Asia.
This may be the reason that we have begun to hear from
Goff's staffers that he and other senior MFAT officials have
taken on board -- and now share -- our view that New
Zealand's economic well-being depends directly on the
regional stability that the U.S. military does so much to
provide. We have started to see some changes as a result.
Minister Goff's speech to a recent Leadership Forum of New
Zealand and Australian officials, academic, and private
sector representatives was I believe his first acknowledgment
to a non-U.S. audience that America's role in the Pacific is
critical to maintaining stability in the region. The remarks
were made under Chatham House rules and so unfortunately not
made public, but they were a positive step. Goff will want
to assure you that New Zealand attaches great importance to
the U.S. strategic presence in Asia, and he will emphasize
that New Zealand's Free Trade Agreement talks with China
should not be mistaken for a desire to realign NZ foreign
policy towards Beijing. For this reason, you may want to
suggest to Goff that China/Taiwan could be one subject in a
broader strategic dialogue with the Kiwis. North Korea could
be another.
6. (C/NOFORN) As a friend at MFAT has noted, the NZ
Government is made up of "realists," who do not expect to be
able to announce any dramatic new bilateral developments
before this year's general elections, probably in
mid-September. Goff will likely tell you that although a
Labour victory is likely, the Government may be forced to
form a coalition with the Greens, whose antipathy to the
United States is obvious. Indeed, there is no party in New
Zealand -- not even National -- that considers a review of
the nuclear ban and closer ties with us a vote-getter. But I
believe now is the time for you to lay down the marker with
Goff that no matter who wins the election, we have an
opportunity to break from the status quo of the last twenty
years and create a new partnership based on shared strategic
interests. It will take leadership, but the results will
benefit New Zealand as well as the United States. After the
elections, we hope to see a signal from New Zealand officials
that they are willing to take a meaningful step in this


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