WikiLeaks cable: A/S Hill reviews regional and bilateral issues with NZ MFAT secretary Murdoch

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

October 30, 2007
A/S Hill reviews regional and bilateral issues with New Zealand MFAT secretary Murdoch

date:2007-10-30T00:22:00
source:Embassy Wellington
origin:07WELLINGTON785
destination:VZCZCXRO2423 OO RUEHPB DE RUEHWL #0785/01 3030022 ZNY
SSSSS ZZH O 300022Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON TO RUEHC/SECSTATE
WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4844 INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0370
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5006 RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY
PRIORITY 0699 RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0273 RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY
SINGAPORE PRIORITY 0514 RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0671
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0670 RUEHBN/AMCONSUL MELBOURNE
PRIORITY 0120 RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY PRIORITY 0587 RHEHAAA/NATIONAL
SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC PRIORITY RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC CAMP H M SMITH HI PRIORITY
classification:SECRET
reference:07WELLINGTON686
?S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 WELLINGTON 000785

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

OSD FOR JESSICA POWERS; PACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2032
T...
?S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 WELLINGTON 000785

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

OSD FOR JESSICA POWERS; PACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2032
TAGS: PHUM, PREL, KN, NZ, US
SUBJECT: A/S HILL REVIEWS REGIONAL AND BILATERAL ISSUES WITH NEW ZEALAND MFAT SECRETARY MURDOCH
REF: WELLINGTON 686

Classified By: Embassy Wellington DCM David J. Keegan. Reasons E.O.
12958, 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S) Summary. During an October 19 stopover in Auckland, EAP A/S Christopher R. Hill met MFAT Secretary Simon Murdoch to review regional and bilateral issues. They agreed that the Pacific Islands Forum had produced good results, holding the line on elections in Fiji and RAMSI in the Solomons. Prospects in Fiji remained uncertain with a fractured opposition facing a military accustomed to authority. Hill said he had told Solomons Foreign Minister Oti that RAMSI is the best thing the Solomons has going for it. Murdoch then turned to Foreign Minister Peters' upcoming trip to Pyongyang and his determination to support the Six-Party process; he asked what topics the U.S. would want Peters to emphasize or avoid. Hill stressed the need to emphasize that New Zealand and others could offer substantial assistance to North Korea, but it was conditional on DPRK implementation of its Six-Party commitments. He reviewed the latest Six-Party developments and next steps on disablement and further denuclearization. Hill said he had urged Pyongyang to respond to Japan's concern over abductees, and he recommended Peters do the same. On bilateral relations, Murdoch indicated that when Peters meets the Secretary in Washington, he would renew an invitation for her to visit New Zealand on her way to or from Ausmin next year. He said New Zealand is actively considering ways to increase its development assistance in Afghanistan, initiate training for Afghan police, and possibly deploy the SAS to Afghanistan. Murdoch said that Peters also hopes to explain New Zealand's response on the
Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership. Hill urged Peters to review these developments with the Secretary. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During an October 19 stopover in Auckland after the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), EAP Assistant Secretary Christopher R. Hill discussed a range of regional SIPDIS and bilateral issues with Secretary Simon Murdoch of New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). MFAT Deputy Secretary John McArthur and America's Division officer James Waite accompanied Murdoch; Wellington DCM
David Keegan (note taker) and EAP Special Assistant Christopher Klein accompanied A/S Hill.

PIF Outcomes Positive on Fiji and Solomons

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3. (C) A/S Hill said the PIF had produced a good outcome on pressuring the interim government in Fiji to move toward elections without delay. Commodore Frank Bainimarama had been looking for the Forum to help give
him a way out of the political crisis he had created, but that was placing hope over reality. Murdoch said he had feared that the Forum would "choke" on Fiji and on RAMSI, but the member states had held the line. Prime Minister Clark, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, and the Samoan Prime Minister Tuila'epa had all taken a strong position. Australian Foreign Minister Downer had said he was pleased with the outcome, especially with Clark's performance.

4. (C) Murdoch added that these positive results will make it easier to move Fiji forward toward elections with a carrot and stick approach. Bainimarama had urged the Forum leaders not to endorse the roadmap laid out by the PIF foreign ministers, but they held the line. The U.S. and
New Zealand now need to work with the PIF members to counter Bainimarama's efforts to portray the Forum members and partners as bullies. He added that New Zealand very much appreciated that DAS Davies had pushed back during his meeting with Bainimarama in New York against Chinese efforts to undercut international and regional pressure on the Fijian interim regime. WELLINGTON 00000785 002 OF 003

5. (C) Hill observed that Bainimarama appears to be casting himself as a Chavez-style populist, but the Fijian people do not seem persuaded. Still, the U.S. Embassy in Suva was very concerned that the opposition remained fractured and apparently incapable of forming a strong coalition. He concurred with Murdoch's observation that the Fijian military had had three generations to build itself into a strong cohesive political and social force. Nonetheless, it remained for the Fijian people to make democracy work.

6. (C) A/S Hill reported that in his meeting with Solomons Foreign Minister Patteson Oti he said RAMSI is the best thing that has happened to the Solomon Islands, and the government should support it. It would not help the Solomons to get cross-wise with the countries in the region that have contributed to RAMSI. Oti responded by insisting that the government supports RAMSI but has to honor its own parliamentary processes in completing the current review of RAMSI, A/S Hill said. These were excuses for the government's current refusal to support RAMSI. The decision of the Solomon's Prime Minister to boycott the PIF, citing a prior obligation to attend the Taiwan meeting of Pacific
heads of government, had not gone over well with the assembled leaders.

Preparing Foreign Minister Peters' Visit to North Korea

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7. (S) Murdoch then turned to preparations for Foreign Minister Winston Peters' November visit to North Korea. He said the Minister is determined to use the visit to support the Six-Party process in every way possible. Peters plans to stress to the North Koreans that he considers it the responsibility of all nations to support the Six-Party Talks. New Zealand wants to help bring North Korea out of its isolation, but only provided that North Korea follows through on its Six-Party commitments. It would be helpful, Murdoch added, to know what the "red lines" would be for the U.S.

8. (S) Hill observed that North Korea has something of a "Cargo Cult" mentality and expects visitors to offer presents. It might be helpful for New Zealand to offer some small form of aid during Peters' visit, while saying that it could do far more, such as provide economic and financial assistance, and training in English language proficiency, but only if the North follows through on its Six-Party commitments. The message would be that New Zealand and like-minded countries are prepared to offer more, but only if the DPRK denuclearizes.

9. (S) Turning to the current status of the Six- Party Talks, Hill observed that the talks are coming to three critical milestones. The first involves disabling the plutonium enrichment facilities in Yongbyon. The second step is securing a full declaration from Pyongyang of all its nuclear programs. The third is persuading the DPRK to
surrender the enriched plutonium it already possesses. This material is likely in the hands of the Korean People's Army, and it will take considerable effort to persuade them to release it.

10. (S) Murdoch asked where the U.S. stands on the normalization track of the talks. Hill said that the U.S. would move ahead with removing North Korea from the list of state supporters of terrorism and terminating application of the Trading with the Enemy Act only if the DPRK makes continued progress on denuclearization. In this context, Murdoch asked about the current status of Japan's demand for North Korea to make progress on Japanese abductees. McArthur noted that Japan had asked New Zealand to raise the issue in Pyongyang. Noting that abductions had become a WELLINGTON 00000785 003 OF 003 major political issue in Japan, Hill said he had urged North Korea to find a way to be more responsive and to help new Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda make progress on this issue. He emphasized that he had told North Korea it is in its own interest to improve relations with Japan -- and for the U.S. to have good relations with Japan. Meanwhile, normalization
discussions could proceed in parallel with progress on denuclearization.

11. (S) As for a Korean peninsula peace settlement, Hill also noted that the ROK Reunification Ministry had sought prematurely for the North-South summit to make a declaration that a peace treaty would be completed. MOFA had then worked to persuade President Roh not to support such a declaration. Against this backdrop, the U.S. wants to avoid becoming an issue in the current election campaign in South Korea so we intend to take a low-key approach. A/S Hill urged Peters to beware of any reference to a "peace declaration."

U.S.-N.Z. Relations

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12. (C) Murdoch then turned to U.S.-New Zealand bilateral relations. He said he was still hearing good feedback from the Partnership Forum in Auckland in September. He thanked Hill for attending and noted that the Forum had strengthened both public and private sector support for efforts to improve the relationship. Murdoch recalled that he had mentioned to Hill when they met during the Forum (Reftel) that a Presidential visit in a year with elections on both sides might be difficult to manage, but New Zealand would welcome a visit by the Secretary of State. He had subsequently spoken to the Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister, and they had both endorsed that assessment. He suggested that a visit by the Secretary on the way to or from the AUSMIN would be very welcome, and he expected the Foreign Minister would renew that invitation when he visits Washington November 19. Hill responded that the Secretary very much appreciates the Foreign Minister's strong support on North Korea and is interested in coming.

13. (C) Murdoch said he considers the coming year a time to bank the gains we had made over the past year and keep the public profile of the relationship positive through the course of our elections. New Zealand is very conscious of the importance the U.S. attaches to New Zealand's support in Afghanistan. The government is considering expanding its development assistance, initiating police training, and possibly deploying the SAS again. New Zealand is also considering bringing Afghan police trainees to New Zealand, probably under NATO auspices. He added that Foreign Minister Peters would try to have something to say on the Asia Pacific Development Partnership (APDP) when he sees the Secretary.

MCCORMICK

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