Cablegate: Foreign Minister On U.S. Relationship, Trade, Afghanistan

DE RUEHWL #0287/01 2730219
R 300218Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Foreign Minister on U.S. Relationship, Trade, Afghanistan
and the Pacific Island Region

1. (SBU) Summary. During a September 26 introductory call,
Foreign Minister Murray McCully warmly welcomed the Charge and
emphasized that his door is always open for future meetings.
McCully said the New Zealand Government puts a "huge priority" on
building the relationship with the U.S., and he plans to build the
relationship in a practical manner outside the spotlight of the New
Zealand media. Regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), New
Zealand is eagerly awaiting the results of the U.S.
Administration's trade policy review but will not put pressure on
the USG to move forward on the TPP. On Afghanistan, the Foreign
Minister said the August 30 McChrystal assessment had "played into
the hands of government opponents" since it called for more
resources just when New Zealand had decided to redeploy the Special
Air Service (SAS). McCully added that New Zealand is focusing its
efforts on capacity building in Bamyan Province. Turning to New
Zealand's Pacific island neighbors, McCully said New Zealand has a
special relation with Pacific island nations because of the large
population of Pacific Islanders living in the country. This gives
New Zealand "soft power", which it hopes to use in concert with the
U.S. to build the region. End Summary.

Wanting to Be Seen as Reliable, Serious, and Trustworthy

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

2. (SBU) McCully iterated that he prefers to focus on the
substance of the bilateral relationship with the U.S. and not build
the relationship merely to "create media events" as politicians had
done in the past. He added that he wants to be more "practical" in
how the relationship is moved forward and that "we want you to see
us as reliable, serious, and trustworthy." In this vein, he added
that TV NZ Political Editor Guyon Espiner's planned interview on
October 6 with Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell might include a
question about the A4 Skyhawk fighter jet issue; however, the New
Zealand Government is in no way pointing him in this direction and
wants to more forward quietly with the issue.

We Eagerly Await the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with the U.S.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------------

3. (SBU) The New Zealand Government is eagerly awaiting the
outcome of the U.S. review of its trade policy and hopes to move
forward with TPP talks said McCully. However, he added that he
"fully understands the U.S. system needs to go thought the trade
review process," and New Zealand will be careful not to apply any
pressure to the U.S.

Politically in a Difficult Spot on Afghanistan

--------------------------------------------- -----------

4. (SBU) The Foreign Minister said the Afghanistan election has
created a more "challenging situation there", and his past
experience does not give him too much hope with the reelection of
Karzai. He emphasized that New Zealand has been watching with
apprehension how the August 30 McChrystal assessment on Afghanistan
has played out, noting it has "played into the hands of government
opponents" in New Zealand. The McChrystal report calls for more
resources "just when we have made a new commitment" said McCully.
This is "not helpful" since we want to have a chance to see how the
surge works before asking for more commitment. The Foreign
Minister, however, assured that the New Zealand Government made a
decision regarding its military contribution that "it is
comfortable with." The country has over 1 million New Zealanders
abroad, and if there is trouble somewhere in the world, one of them
will inevitably be affected. New Zealand has a "clear concept of
the necessity to eliminate the threat of terror," but managing the
politics of the decision to send troops is "not straight forward."
It is "unfortunate that our opponents who initially deployed the

WELLINGTON 00000287 002 OF 002

Special Air Service (SAS) have now opposed redeployment," and
"there are signs they intend to make it a more political issue"
said McCully. Although the Charge emphasized the McChrystal report
was not a call for addition New Zealand resources, McCully replied
that it is not how it has played out in New Zealand media.
McCully continued by saying New Zealand is focusing its efforts on
capacity building of the police in Bamyan Province, and it also has
ambitions to do more capacity building in Bamyan on agriculture and
education with "more development people on the ground."

New Zealand Has a Unique Role to Play in the Pacific

--------------------------------------------- ---------------------

5. (SBU) According to McCully, New Zealand has a special relation
with Pacific island nations and hence can make a unique
contribution to building the region. Outsiders often lump New
Zealand and Australia together in regional responsibilities, but
what New Zealand can contribute is quite different from Australia.
Australia has "the resources to throw at problems" that New Zealand
does not have. However, New Zealand is more "interwoven" with the
Pacific islands since 6 percent of New Zealand's population comes
from the area, and that percentage is expected to rise to 10
percent by 2030. These Pacific islanders all have connections with
their native countries and send large remittances and other support
to family members living there. McCully remarked that New Zealand
can use this to provide "soft power" in the region and that New
Zealand also views itself as a firm partner with the U.S. in
building these countries. The Foreign Minister noted that he
himself had invested a great deal of effort in developing a
relationship with Pacific island countries, personally visiting
Niue, Tonga, Samoa, PNG, Tuvalu, and many others since taking
office. He added that New Zealand has intensified its development
assistance programs to these countries and has a "stronger sense of
its purpose" in the region. In Polynesia alone, New Zealand has
boosted its development funding by a third this year. We are
"small and nimble with something to contribute," and "we hope the
U.S. can be a partner with us in this effort" said McCully.

© Scoop Media

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