US envoy promises to foster friendship

The new United States Ambassador, William McCormick, says it is an important time for New Zealand and the US to work together to build a deeper relationship, but is unwilling to talk about how this might happen.

Mr McCormick said terrorism was a "huge issue" for the US, but he did not want to talk about problems between the two countries, such as New Zealand's push for a free-trade deal and America's dislike of the anti-nuclear legislation.

New Zealand's support for the response to the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent terrorist-related actions round the world had been appreciated, said Mr McCormick.

He arrived in New Zealand on Monday and presented his credentials to Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright yesterday before his first meeting with politicians.

Mr McCormick told Dame Silvia he wanted to build on the work of previous ambassadors to strengthen common ties.

"I am also keenly aware that there has never been a more important time for us to work together to meet current challenges, seize opportunities and lay the foundations of our future relationship," he said.

"I will work energetically with the New Zealand Government and with the people of New Zealand to explore new and creative initiatives to deepen and broaden our longstanding and precious friendship."

Mr McCormick was unwilling to expand on his comments when questioned by journalists at his appointments in the Beehive.

He said he had only been in the country 48 hours and would want to learn more before commenting.

Incoming Trade Minister Phil Goff said the main subject of his talks with Mr McCormick was the ongoing World Trade Organisation talks known as the Doha round.

He had also emphasised New Zealand's desire for a free-trade deal with the US.

Mr McCormick said the US would continue to look at talks with New Zealand, but he would not make any further commitments.

The anti-nuclear legislation and "highly complex" trade talks were not linked, he said.

The new ambassador also met Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Mr McCormick was co-founder and chairman of McCormick and Schmick Management Group.

He opened the company's first McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant 30 years ago.

Earlier in his career, he served in the United States Army Reserve.

He knows President George W. Bush and has contributed to his political campaigns.


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