Transcript of the Wellington Declaration media conference

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A transcript of the Wellington Declaration media conference held by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister John Key. Provided by the US State Department.

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Okay. So firstly, can I start by saying I'm delighted to welcome you, Secretary Clinton, and your team to New Zealand. We're very pleased you've taken the time in your extensive travel schedule to come to Wellington. The people of both Canterbury and New Zealand will deeply appreciate your display of solidarity in visiting Christchurch tomorrow, and we thank you very much for that.

I understand you've already braved Wellington's wind during a walk around the waterfront this morning, so you'll have a firsthand appreciation of why the local rugby team is called the Hurricanes, and you'll see what that's like.

The relationship between our two countries is in great shape. It's the best it's been for 25 years.

I want to thank you personally, Secretary Clinton, and of course, President Obama, for your personal commitment to New Zealand and to this relationship. Ours is a relationship built on shared values and principles where we have a great deal in common, and where we understand and respect one another.

Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Murray McCully will shortly sign the Wellington Declaration, but let me first add we have appreciated the opportunity to canvas a wide range of issues in our discussions today. These have included our shared interests in the Pacific, security interests including Afghanistan, the trade agenda, and US engagement in the region. We talked about playing our respective parts in delivering a safer and more secure global environment. I've also welcomed the US participation in both the Trans Pacific Partnership, and of course, its move to join the East Asian Summit held here a few days ago.

So once again, Secretary Clinton, thank you very much for visiting us in New Zealand. I'm now going to invite you and Minister McCully to sign the Wellington Declaration and then for the Minister, and of course, yourself to make any remarks you may wish.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Prime Minister.

(The declaration was signed.) (Applause.)

FOREIGN MININSTER MCCULLY: Well, thank you, Prime Minister and can I just take this opportunity of extending my formal words of welcome to Secretary Clinton in saying how much we appreciate this visit and the fantastic support that you've given this relationship in the time that you've held this office.

Can I also take the opportunity of greeting your delegation, and in particular, mention Dr. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for this region, who has been an enthusiastic advocate for this relationship, and publicly express my appreciation of his great support. Can I say how much the New Zealand Government appreciates the commitment of your government to stepping up the level of engagement in the Asia Pacific region. It's reflected in the decision to join the East Asia Summit and to reestablish the USAID office as a partner in the Pacific. It's also reflected in the intensity of your own activity in the region. I think this is your sixth visit as Secretary of State to the Asia Pacific region. I think you've got eight stops on this visit alone.

Secretary Clinton and I have both, on previous occasions, commented very positively on the state of the relationship between our two countries. But today, we have decided we want to be more ambitious for the U.S.-New Zealand relationship. The Wellington Declaration, which we have just signed, has asserted a determination to do more and achieve more together. It starts from a base of shared history, shared values and interests, and commits us to what the document itself describes as the framework of a new United States-New Zealand strategic partnership.

That partnership will focus on two areas. First, it will focus on practical cooperation in the Pacific region, a neighborhood that has more than its share of challenges, and one in which our two countries can, along with our good friends, make a serious difference. The partnership will also see us working together in critical areas like meeting the challenges of climate change, the pursuit of renewable energy initiatives, and disaster recovery initiatives within the region.

The second feature of the new strategic partnership will focus on the framework for greater dialogue between ministers, officials, and experts in the many areas in which our two countries share interests. To some extent, this formalizes a process of greater engagement that's already been occurring in recent times, but we welcome the formal agreement to regular contact and a wider range of exchanges.

We have enjoyed very constructive discussions today across a range of important topics. In my view, we have turned a very important page in the history of U.S.-New Zealand relations. I want to thank you very much indeed for your personal contribution to that process, to the very positive approach you have brought to the relationship, culminating in this signing today. And it's my great pleasure to invite you to make some comments to our media.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you so very much, Foreign Minister, and thank you for the work that you and I have done together over these past months. And Prime Minister, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to this relationship. We are very grateful for that. And thanks also for giving me the chance to experience (inaudible) and all that it means. I am very grateful. And the prime minister is right; I landed this morning and shortly thereafter, took a walk around the coolest little capital in the world - (laughter) - and enjoyed it immensely.

And I am grateful as well for the very strong ties that we have between our people, and this Wellington Declaration will give us the framework, as the foreign minister said, to really put our governments together, to work in practical ways to solve problems that we both are facing. My visit is part of a committed, concerted effort to restore America's rightful place as an engaged Pacific nation. In this, as in so many other endeavors, we have a strong partner in New Zealand.

This is, for us, a very important relationship and it is probably, as the prime minister and the foreign minister have said, at its strongest and most productive in 25 years. Now, why is that so important? It's because together, we can address issues in this region and beyond that have very real impacts on both of our peoples. So we are moving ahead. For example, earlier this year, the US National Science Foundation partnered with New Zealand to install wind turbines in Antarctica to provide clean energy to our bases there. America and New Zealand teamed up to provide aid to Samoa and American Samoa in the wake of the devastating tsunami so that we weren't duplicating, but amplifying what each of us was doing. Now, we are both rushing to deliver emergency aid to Mentawai, Indonesia.

I want to express my appreciation for the excellent conversations that I've had with both the foreign minister and the prime minister. And the signing of this declaration gives us a chance to explore greater cooperation on everything from promoting sustainable economic development and strong democratic institutions across the region to working on security issues, clean energy, responding to natural disasters. And it emphasizes the need to seek ideas from women, minorities, and young leaders.

We are also working together, through the East Asia Summit where we were just a few days ago in Hanoi. And we are particularly grateful for New Zealand's important leadership on nonproliferation. The prime minister was at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington earlier this year, where he participated in a series of discussions about effectively limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, which is in line with President Obama's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.

New Zealand contributes to global security through its proud tradition of global peacekeeping. Kiwi soldiers and police officers have deployed to nearly every corner of the globe, from the Solomon Islands to the Sinai, where it's a New Zealand commander who is responsible for that mission.

I also want to thank New Zealand for the work we are doing together in Afghanistan. I expressed my condolence for the loss of the young soldier just recently. A few of us know that there is no way to express adequately to any family or loved ones about such a loss. But the sacrifice and service that our soldiers are doing side-by-side in the PRT and in the important mission inside Afghanistan is extremely important to our security in not only Afghanistan and the immediate region, but far, far beyond, as far as America's shores and New Zealand's.

We have found that even when our interest converge - and make no mistake, they overwhelmingly do - partnerships between countries do not build themselves. It takes sustained effort and coordinated action and leaders ready to breathe life into a shared commitment.

So thank you very much, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. In a world where solving problems takes more partners than ever before, New Zealand punches way above its weight in every sector of challenge in the world today. And it is, for me personally, a great pleasure to help build and deepen and broaden and strengthen this important partnership. I'm hopeful that the Wellington Declaration is a sign of even closer cooperation in the years ahead. Thank you very much.

FOREIGN MINISTER MCCULLY: So I understand there will be a few questions, Paul, and I ask you -

MODERATOR: First question from the United States media is from Lachlan Carmichael of AFP.

QUESTION: No microphone?

MODERATOR: Fire away.

QUESTION: Okay, fire away. (Laughter.)

FOREIGN MINISTER MCCULLY: Not literally. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, this question is more loosely to do with the common nuclear agenda you have with New Zealand. Are you concerned about the fate of the New START Treaty in both the legislatures of Russia and the United States? I mean, the Russian parliamentary committee just withdrew its recommendation that it pass the (inaudible). And back in the United States, do you think you will be able to get the treaty passed through this current lame-duck legislation?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Lachlan, let me start by saying that this treaty is not only very important to the United States and Russia, but it's important to the goal that certainly we share with New Zealand of moving toward a world without nuclear weapons. The continuing efforts by the United States and Russia to reduce their stockpiles is essential toward any progress toward that goal.

So we take this treaty very seriously, and I know that the Russian Government does as well. We are working hard to pass the treaty. As you know, it was reported out of our Senate Foreign Relations Committee by an overwhelming vote. We believe we have enough votes to pass it in the Senate. It's just a question of when it will be brought to the vote. It may be brought - and it would certainly be my preference that it be brought in any lame-duck session in the next several weeks. And that is what I'm working toward seeing happen. But we'll have to wait and work with the Senate and the leadership when they come back for that session.

So both Russia and the United States are committed to ratifying it.

MODERATOR: Okay. Next question, New Zealand media, is Tracy Watkins of Fairfax.

QUESTION: Yes, Secretary. You referred in the declaration to (inaudible) political (inaudible) talks. I'm just wondering if you can explain in practical terms what that will mean. And I'm just wondering, is that going to be at the level of (inaudible) and how will that play out? What sort of change will that mean and (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, let me commend the government here for the recent defence white paper which has just been issued. It says clearly that the United States and New Zealand will continue to be close security partners - and I'm quoting - over the next 25 years.

This Wellington Declaration makes it clear that we want to cooperate across the board in every aspect of our civilian efforts and our military as well. The United States and New Zealand have a procedure for handling military-to-military cooperation on a case-by-case basis. If possible, we want to do more. We're exploring that as an opportunity for our respective militaries to consult over - for example, more joint training and exchanges among our officers, opportunities where we can do joint exercises together. But that I will leave to my colleague, the Defence Secretary, who will certainly be consulting with his counterpart here.

Perhaps, Prime Minister, would you want to add anything?

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Well, only that New Zealand very highly values our ability to work alongside and train with the United States, and in a practical sense because we find ourselves operating together in countries like Afghanistan that's clearly of both importance and significance that we can extend our training exercises. And from the government's perspective, we've made it clear through our defence white paper that we intend to beef up our front line and deployable capability. And obviously, engaging with our very good friends in the United States is an important part of it, and that's what we'll be doing.

MODERATOR: Okay. Back to USB* and we have Nicole Gaouette from Bloomberg.

QUESTION: Hi. Madam Secretary, I just want to shift regions to the Middle East. The Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu will be visiting the States next week. Will you be seeing him? And with the Arab League deadline for peace talks (inaudible) next week as well, I believe, do you think you will be able to continue the talks or (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Nicole, I do intend to see Prime Minister Netanyahu when he's in the United States next week. We are in the process of firming up a time for us to meet. Our schedules are obviously very, very busy, and I don't get back from this trip until late on Monday night.

But I want to reiterate that we are working on a nonstop basis with our Israeli and Palestinian friends to design a way forward in the negotiations. I am convinced that both leaders - President Abbas are Prime Minister Netanyahu - are committed to pursuing the two-state solution. And it is clear that that can only be achieved through negotiations. So I am very involved in finding the way forward, and I think that we will be able to do so.

MODERATOR: And the final question is New Zealand media. It's Barry (inaudible) with (inaudible).

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, this time last year, President Obama gave a commitment to the Trans Pacific Partnership and negotiation thereof. I'm just wondering what the timeframe of that has been? Will it ever preclude a bilateral negotiation for New Zealand and miracles* (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say that we discussed at some length, both the foreign minister and I and then the prime minister and I, the way forward on trade. We are very committed to the Trans Pacific Partnership, and New Zealand, again, is playing a leading role. And we want to expedite the negotiations as much as possible. So we are exploring ways that we can try to drive this agenda. I am absolutely convinced that opening up markets in Asia amongst all of us and doing so in a way that creates win-win situations so that people feel that trade is in their interests.

And certainly, no country demonstrates that more or better than New Zealand. The emphasis that the prime minister has placed on exports is one that President Obama has actually ordered that we do similarly. He want - President Obama wants to see the United States double our exports over the next several years.

So we are very committed to TPP. As with any trade deal, it's day by day negotiating over all kinds of issues to the satisfaction of the parties. And this is a complex negotiation. We're not ruling out, we're not ruling in any bilateral agreements with anybody else in the region, including New Zealand. But our priority is to really focus on the TTP and see how fast we can move that towards completion, and I think that's very much in both New Zealand's and the United States's interests.

PRIME MININSTER KEY: I think the only other comment I would make about TPP is that you can see the significance that other countries are placing on TPP by their actions that they want to join the original eight countries. We're now seeing Malaysia coming to the negotiating table. Canada and Japan have also indicated their strong interest to potentially join. And from New Zealand's point of view, our only real condition is - *player it is* at the table is that we want a comprehensive and high-quality agreement. Anyone that wants to join in those negotiations that can meet those criteria would be welcome participants, but from New Zealand's point of view, we share the ambitions that President Obama has, and we think it's very important for the New Zealand economy. And we, in a purely bilateral basis, have concerns about the fact that Australia has an FTA. They're a very important part of our market in New Zealand, so we see Trans Pacific Partnership as a very important item to be completed if at all possible.

So, President Clinton - I'm sorry. (Laughter.) (Applause.) Secretary Clinton - great. I thank you for your time here in New Zealand and I look forward to seeing President Obama when he is here in Japan next week.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.

PRIME MINISTER KEY: That will be great. And I know it's your first visit, but we hope it won't be your last.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so very much, Prime Minister. I really appreciate that.


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