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Cablegate: Embassy Wellington

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWL #0385 3182138
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 132138Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5536
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 5319
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA 0773

C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000385

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2033
TAGS: PREL US NZ KS XU XV
SUBJ: AMBASSADOR PAYS FAREWELL CALL ON PRIME MINISTER HELEN CLARK

Classified by AMBASSADOR William McCormick, reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

1. (C) The Ambassador called on Prime Minister Helen Clark November
13 to say farewell as he prepares to conclude his assignment as
Ambassador and as the Prime Minister prepares to step down sometime
in the next few days. The Ambassador thanked the Prime Minister for
everything she has done to improve the bilateral relationship, noting
that the two governments together had changed the relationship in
what had sometimes been a difficult environment by focusing on common
concerns. The Prime Minister agreed, saying that we had made
considerable progress together. She thanked the Ambassador for all he
had done and asked the Ambassador to convey her thanks to the
President for his friendship. She praised the Secretary, Assistant
Secretary Hill, DAS Davies and former ANP Director McGann for their
contributions.

2. (C) The Ambassador said that he would remain interested in the
Pacific after he left his post. He said that the Pacific Island
Countries face enormous governance challenges and New Zealand is
"carrying the load" in working with those countries. The Prime
Minister observed that she was particularly concerned about Fiji. The
United States is now paying more attention to the Pacific than at any
time since World War II and that needs to continue. Both agreed that
they shared a serious concern about the growth of dollar diplomacy in
the region, particularly by the Chinese who often step in when New
Zealand and others try to persuade PIC governments to take necessary
but unpalatable steps. The Ambassador said that he had been
disappointed at the praise Samoa recently lavished on Chinese
construction projects, including a lavish but impractical swimming
pool complex, while giving much less attention to the forty years of
Peace Corps contributions to the islands economy and society.

3. (C) PM Clark said she had recently been very disappointed that
the Tongan candidate, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Viliami Ta'u tangi,
to be elected Regional Director of the World Health Organization
Western Pacific regional Office had been defeated. New Zealand had
agreed to support the decision of the Pacific Island Forum to vote in
favor of the Tongan candidate only to discover that many PIF
representatives, including the PIF chairman, eventually voted against
the Tongan candidate. It was clear to her, the PM said, that money
had likely played a role in changing their votes to favor the
successful Korean candidate.

4. (C) The Ambassador expressed his hope that Clark would stay
involved in international issues. She responded that she was looking
for opportunities but recognized that the prime minister of a small
country might not always be in great demand. The Ambassador responded
that Kiwis always told him they were a small country, but he never
heard this from Washington because the U.S. saw them as a significant
partner. Clark said that she hoped New Zealand was seen as a friendly
Western country that sometimes can do things the United States
cannot.

McCormick

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