US Secretary of State John Kerry thanks NZ: 'We are making a difference'

By Isaac Davison

Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry arriving for their bi-lateral talks at Premiere House in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry arriving for their bi-lateral talks at Premiere House in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry have met in Wellington for bilateral talks this morning.

The two leaders met at the Prime Minister's official residence, Premier House, for an hour of talks on the Iraq-Syria conflict, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and climate change,

At a press conference following the meeting, Kerry said the two countries' relationship was "as good as it's ever been".

"We could not be more grateful for the extraordinary leadership that New Zealand provides on so many different levels.

"You have been a partner in security issues, in counter-terrorism issues, humanitarian issues, South China Sea, climate change, environment, our work together in Antarctica,.

"I want people in New Zealand to know that from the perspective of President Obama and the United States of America we could not be more excited or more gratified for the tremendous relationship that we have with New Zealand."

Kerry also thanked New Zealand for its contribution to the anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq.

"We are making a difference," he said.

Speaking about a suicide bombing attack at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in which four Americans were Killed, Kerry said it underscored "what we are all fighting for in various places in the world which is stability and peace and the ability of people to be able to live with tolerance with difference points of view."

"Our mission in Afghanistan will not be deterred by these individual acts, it is that simple. The sooner people realise there is a better way to resolve differences the sooner the world will be able to move more effectively in a better direction."

Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry and their officials at the able for their bi-lateral talks at Premiere House in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State John Kerry and their officials at the able for their bi-lateral talks at Premiere House in Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The two leaders also discussed the visit by the US battle ship USS Sampson for the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th anniversary this month.

Kerry mostly avoided speaking about Donald Trump when asked about the President-elect's policies on climate change and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

He said he "would not speculate" about whether Trump could dismantle Obama's legacy on combating climate change.

But he suggested that Trump may not follow through with some of his promises, saying there was "sometimes a divide between the campaign and the governing".

Speaking about the TPP, Kerry said no country could grow and become prosperous without trading with other countries, He expected "a robust debate" about the agreement under the Trump administration.

Kerry has visited New Zealand many times before, as a Senator, in a private capacity on holiday and for R and R in 1968 as a young naval officer on a US frigate after finishing a tour in the Gulf of Tonkin off Vietnam.

"I spent four or five days [in Wellington] enjoying what was then a smaller and more intimate city but no less a welcoming one.

"I observed then what I know to be true today which is that the people of our two nations share similar values, were informed by the history of our defending those values together...and we are also as people, both of us, inspired by a very optimistic sense of what the future can bring us if we make the right choices and if we sustain this rules-based order that we have developed since World War Two."

Key and Kerry later headed to Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, but not before a quick stop in downtown Wellington for a bit of souvenir shopping.

At the memorial park, Kerry laid a wreath to recognise fallen soldiers.

He also unveiled a plaque where a US war memorial will be constructed. Speaking at the unveiling, he said that the occasion had particular poignancy because of the death of the four soldiers at Bagram.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 29 Mar 2017 06:26:32 Processing Time: 734ms