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Cablegate: Nz Opposition Leader Pleased with Washington Visit

VZCZCXRO2531
RR RUEHNZ
DE RUEHWL #0537/01 2062346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252346Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4498
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1404
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 4890
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0549
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WELLINGTON 000537

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/FO, AND EAP/ANP
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISD LIZ PHU
PACOM FOR J01E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV NZ
SUBJECT: NZ OPPOSITION LEADER PLEASED WITH WASHINGTON VISIT

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: National Party leader John Key and other senior
opposition party officials regarded their June visit to Washington
as a big success. Members of Key's entourage told post that the high
points of the trip were their meetings with Deputy Secretary of
State Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Chris Hill along with James
Connaughton of the Council on Environmental Quality. Key was so
taken by Connaughton's views on climate change policy that
National's own climate policy could incorporate similar views. They
noted that the anti-nuclear issue was not raised once during the
visit with DOD officials. During the side-trip to Ottawa to meet
with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Canadian government
officials, Key was quizzed on New Zealand's economy and its military
commitment in Afghanistan. End summary

Tone of visit friendly, personal objectives met
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) On July 17, the Opposition National Party's Foreign Affairs
spokesman Murray McCully, Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson and Chief
Press Secretary Kevin Taylor briefed Charge' Keegan and Political
Assistant Greaves on their assessment of John Key's June 26-29 visit
to Washington. McCully said that Key and his entourage (McCully,
Taylor and the National Party Trade spokesman Tim Groser) agreed
that the overall tone of the visit was very amicable and met Key's
chief objectives: to make contacts; to personally introduce himself
and expound his political priorities (including his desire for a
US-NZ Free Trade Agreement), and to better understand how Washington
operates. (Note: Although Mr. Key had lived in New York while
working on Wall Street, he never visited Washington. End note)

3. (SBU) McCully rated the meeting with Deputy Secretary of State
Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Chris Hill at State as a
particular highlight of their visit. McCully suspected that D
Negroponte was using the meeting to appraise Key as New Zealand's
potential next prime minister. McCully was impressed by A/S Hill's
engagement on South Pacific issues and what the group observed as
his prominent status within the US policy-making community.

Key ponders U.S. climate change thinking
----------------------------------------

5. (SBU) McCully and Taylor made it clear that their climate change
discussions were an important focal point of the visit and the
meeting with James Connaughton of the Council on Environmental
Quality was a particularly well-spent moment especially for John
Key. Taylor remarked that climate change thinking in the U.S., as
expounded by Connaughton, had moved on from Kyoto and was far more
advanced, especially regarding possible technologies to address
climate change, than in NZ, where Kyoto requirements still dominate
much of the debate. McCully said that some future National Party
policy discussion papers could better reflect some of this 'advanced
thinking.'

Anti-nuclear issue not discussed during DOD meeting
--------------------------------------------- ------

6. (SBU) McCully said that the meeting at DOD with Under Secretary
of Defense Eric Edelman was very cordial and noted that the
anti-nuclear issue was not raised once. He proffered that perhaps
for the first time in about 20 years the anti-nuclear issue was not
talked about at a meeting between New Zealanders and DOD officials.
(Note: Shortly after Key became National party leader in November
2006, he made clear that if elected PM he would continue to retain
the anti-nuclear policy, as distinct to his predecessor Dr. Don
Brash who was purposely vague on the subject. End Note.)

USTR, Think Tank and Capitol Hill meetings
------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) At USTR the group met with Deputy USTR John K. Veroneau;
McCully and Taylor both observed the mood was palpably downcast
which they attributed to recent failure of the Potsdam meetings to
save Doha Round. McCully was particularly impressed with Kurt
Campbell from the Center for a New American Security whom he noted
displayed a level of intimacy with the issues of importance to New
Zealand, especially in the Pacific Islands, that astonished the
visiting party. McCully also spoke highly of the meetings with
Senators Richard Lugar and Gordon Smith on the Hill. The party did
not meet with Congressman Faleomavaega as planned. Overall, the
group was very pleased by the level of access and the depth of

WELLINGTON 00000537 002 OF 002


discussion during their time in Washington.

Canadians seek Key's views on NZ's Afghanistan role
--------------------------------------------- ------

8. (SBU) Finally, during their brief visit to Ottawa to meet with
Canadian PM Harper and other Canadian government officials, the
Canadians expressed interest in Key's views on New Zealand's
Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) and his Party's commitment to
the efforts in Afghanistan. They also explored the state of the New
Zealand's economy at length with Key, drawing him out on his
perspectives as an experienced professional in international
finances.

Keegan

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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