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New Zealand & USA announce Cooperation Programs at Pacific Island Forum in Cook Islands

31 August 2012 – New Zealand High Commissioner’s Residence, Cook Islands

Editor’s note: The Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton addressed the press together following a meeting in the Cook Islands on Friday, 31 August.  The information below was contained in a press release issued by the US State Department on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.  It is shared with PMWJ readers because it contains information relations to planned cooperation between the two countries and commitments to programs and projects related to economic development, environmental protection, sustainable energy and security. It is also interesting to note the reference to the United States’ “rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific region”. 

Remarks of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton

PRIME MINISTER KEY: Okay, so good afternoon. Welcome to Ngatipa, the New Zealand residence here in the Cook Islands. It’s been a pleasure for me to host Secretary Clinton and her team for lunch today. It’s always wonderful to have Secretary Clinton in this part of the world. New Zealand very warmly remembers your visit to our country back in 2010 when you signed the Wellington Declaration, which describes in celebrating the strategic partnership of our two countries here. In the almost two years since Secretary Clinton’s visit to New Zealand, the bilateral relationship has gone from strength to strength. Earlier this year, the Wellington Declaration was complemented by the Washington Declaration (inaudible) relationship.

Secretary Clinton and I discussed a number of areas of cooperation, and I’ll mention just a few. The (inaudible) and the Cook Islands are the forums and executive office is fully committed to supporting inspirations and initiatives of Pacific Island countries. As the outgoing chair of Cook Islands Forum, New Zealand welcomes the full (inaudible) historically strong engagement with the island nations of the Pacific.

We’ve been pleased to announce this week a number of joint initiatives, including the areas of economic development, clean energy, and maritime surveillance. We discussed Afghanistan. New Zealand has stood alongside the United States as part of an international coalition there since 9/11 joined by other countries to tackle the threats posed by al-Qaida and its allies. We’ve endured the terrible loss of life suffered by our coalition partners in Afghanistan, particularly the recent New Zealand and Australian losses and those of the United States.

Secretary Clinton and I discussed the broad range of issues in the Asia Pacific region as we look towards the APEC summit in Russia in around 10 days time. New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts. We discussed our ongoing (inaudible) along side a number of other countries (inaudible) partnership agreement. Secretary Clinton and I share the goal of securing a high quality, (inaudible) free trade agreement, would be a significant (inaudible) countries involved, indeed to the region as a whole.

Before passing over to Secretary Clinton, I’d like to convey publicly my personal gratitude for all that she’s done for the past relations between our two countries and our two peoples over the past four years. Secretary Clinton’s personal interest and involvement in our country is greatly appreciated by the New Zealand people. You’ve been great friends to New Zealand and you’re always welcome.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Prime Minister, thank you very much for the warm welcome that you have provided. As the first Secretary of State to make this journey, I am especially delighted and honored. I was pleased to meet with leaders of the Pacific Island Forum, member states, to attend the Pacific Island Forum, post-forum dialogue where I had a chance to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to our engagement in the Asia Pacific with an equal emphasis on the Pacific part of that phrase. The United States is very proud to be a Pacific nation, a long history in this region, and we are committed to be here for the long run.

Today, I’m announcing new programs and new funding to support our friends in this region in three key areas: promoting sustainable economic development and protecting biodiversity; advancing regional security; and supporting women of the Pacific as they reach for greater political, economic, and social opportunities.

To give just a few examples, the United States will work with Kiribati to protect its marine ecosystem and help coastal communities throughout the region adapt to the effects of climate change and to develop renewable energy resources.

We will expand our security partnership so U.S. ships can be of even greater help in preventing illegal and unregulated fishing, and we will take additional steps to clean up unexploded ordnance in the region, much of it still there from World War Two. We will support the Rarotonga Partnership for the Advancement of Pacific Island Women, launched just today, and I’ll be looking forward to meeting with women from the region later this afternoon.

I’m also very committed to expanding investment and trade in the region, in pursuit of sustainable economic growth. Later today, I’ll meet with local pearl vendors from here in the Cook Islands who are running their businesses while also protecting marine resources.

Obviously, I could go on because there’s a lot to do in this very important region of the world, and there is no doubt that our relationship with New Zealand provides a strong foundation for our engagement across the Pacific. I especially want to thank Prime Minister Key for his leadership in revitalizing the partnership between New Zealand and the United States. As he said, we signed the Wellington Declaration two years ago, and then in June our countries signed the Washington Declaration, which emphasized our defense cooperation.

We are working together on a number of important issues, from establishing security in Afghanistan where Kiwi soldiers have made extraordinary sacrifices. Just recently, the losses are ones that we are equally grieved by and offer our condolences to the families as well as the people of New Zealand. We also are very appreciative of New Zealand’s leadership in addressing climate change and conserving natural resources and opening the doors of opportunity.

In particular, I want to thank the Prime Minister for his government’s support of women across the region. And we’re going to create an exchange program connecting women in the Pacific with women in the Caribbean who work in agriculture so they can learn from each other and understand better how to improve the incomes and opportunities for themselves and their families.

The United States welcomes the chance to work with a broad array of partners in the region –Japan, the European Union, China – we all have an interest in advancing security, prosperity, and opportunity. And as I said this morning, the Pacific is certainly big enough for all of us. So thank you Prime Minister, the United States values our relationship. We celebrated its 70th anniversary this year. We feel a special kinship and closeness to New Zealand and your people and we continue to look, as you said, for our relationship to go from strength to strength. So thank you again for your leadership and partnership.

 

Photo courtesy of One News

Source: US Department of State – visit http://www.state.gov/