US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remarks at the reception hosted by Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Transcript provided by the US State Department.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to be here. This is both a great opportunity on behalf of my country and also a great personal pleasure, because when my husband and daughter came, had a memorable visit 10 years ago, I was running in the Senate and I could not leave my campaign. So I am delighted finally for myself to experience this wonderful, warm welcome. And I am honored to participate in a potpourri this afternoon. I've never seen anything quite like it and I am delighted to have survived it. (Laughter.)
I also want to thank the foreign minister. He and I have been working together in many different settings, both in his trips to Washington and our visits at the United Nations, and it's gratifying to see how much has been accomplished in a short period of time. I know that here in this audience are former prime ministers, current and former cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and many guests. And I thank you for everything you are doing to strengthen the relationship between the United States and New Zealand.
As Murray said, I am in the homestretch of a long trip to Asia because I believe strongly that the United States must have a presence in Asia, that our friends and our partners around the region must know that we're ready to work with them on everything from climate change and security to disaster preparedness and response.
Now, naturally, like any friends, we do not always see eye-to-eye on every issue. But our relationship today is stronger and more productive than it has been in 25 years. And I believe that we have an opportunity to broaden, deepen, and strengthen it even more.
When I look at everything we already are working on, from the magic of moviemaking to the high science of the Antarctica, we're interacting at every level. Kiwi and American students are studying abroad on Fulbright scholarships and on other programs - exchanging ideas, learning about each other, strengthening personal and national ties. And I know there are students and alumni in some of these programs here tonight, and I am delighted to greet you. Kiwi and American soldiers are serving side-by-side in Afghanistan, helping the people of that country rebuild and defend itself after years of conflict.
Kiwi and American aid workers are teaming up to deliver support to the victims of natural disasters like the tsunami that devastated Samoa and American Samoa last year in very difficult circumstances. Indonesia is a growing case. Kiwi and American scientists are hard at work in the (inaudible) projects, studying samples of sediment and ice to understand how greenhouse gases may have effected glaciers in the past and giving us a glimpse of how climate change could affect us in the future.
Kiwi and American businesses exchange more than $5 billion a year in goods and services, from meat and wine and dairy to farm equipment and airplane parts, as well as, of course, of kiwi fruit. So the lessons of our relationship are very clear to me, and that is we need to do more together, particularly in this region. I think that there are opportunities for the United States and New Zealand to partner in working with many of our friends around the Pacific Island nations. We're working, for example, to help empower women in places like Papua New Guinea, where I was last night. We are also committed to dealing with the real-life problems that plague too many people, from the lack of clean water and the lack of appropriate waste disposal to child and maternal mortality.
I am someone who believes strongly that if we do not empower half the population in some of these countries, that they cannot develop in a sustainable way. And I met yesterday night with a group of women from PNG, and because of that recognition and the awareness of it as well by the New Zealand Government, I'm very proud to announce that there will be a women's empowerment initiative in the Pacific Region, which is a commitment in collaboration among New Zealand, the World Bank Group and the United States. Because we want to help people help themselves, and in order to do that, you're going to have to work and divide into two roles and helping to change the mindsets that will create that kind of atmosphere.
We're going to be identifying best principles. For example, New Zealand is doing good work bringing more women into the political process and want to (inaudible). There's so much that I think we can do to fill in the blanks of the Wellington Declaration. It's really a framework as to how we can take our relationship to the next level. I'm very excited about it. I appreciate the support that we have received for working hard on our relationship, on a process - political spectrum here in New Zealand as well as the civil society and the private sector.
I guess on a personal note, I was very struck by how warm and friendly people were on a windy Wellington morning when I ventured out and took a long walk. I mean, I don't know if I saw one - I probably saw 25 signs welcoming me to the best little capital in the world. (Laughter.) And certainly, you have made a believer out of me. Tomorrow, I'm going to Christchurch where we will be doing some work on our mutual efforts in Antarctica and on disaster response, and in particular, with respect to the recent earthquake there.
So although this is my first visit, I'm hoping it will not be my last visit. I can't find too many excuses to come too often or I'm afraid that Congress might get a little bit suspicious and "Why are you spending more time in New Zealand than in Afghanistan?" (Laughter.) But I leave tonight with very warm feelings about all that is possible in this relationship and a very personal commitment to pursue it in every way that I can.
So again, thank you all very much. (Applause.)