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Remarks With New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Government House
Auckland, New Zealand
July 26, 2008

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: It's been a great pleasure for me to be hosting the Secretary of State at this meeting this afternoon. We have met on a number of occasions over the years, not only in Washington, D.C., when I have been on visits to see President Bush, but also (inaudible) the tracks at APEC and other events, most recently during the informal side of the NATO summit in Bucharest, when I went to discuss issues relating to Afghanistan.

So, today has been an opportunity to talk about the relationship between New Zealand and the United States, which both sides acknowledge is in a very good state today. We have both worked hard on that, acknowledging that, as Western democracies, we share so much in common. We work on so much together. And particularly, with the new security paradigm since 9/11, we have stepped up that engagement. So it is a very positive basis on which we meet today.

I have had the opportunity to brief the Secretary on the way New Zealand sees some of the issues in our near region in the South Pacific, some of the engagement that we're having in East Asia, where we are very active. We have talked about interests in the Middle East, where New Zealand has been some kind of player since the First World War, is active today in the Multinational Force in the Sinai, and the UN (inaudible) organization, just been in the mine action clearance activity of the UN in - Lebanon. And, of course, in Afghanistan, as a small country, we have played our part in working to ensure security and reconstruction in that troubled country.

We have spoken about trade issues. And New Zealand, of course, retains its interest at some point in coming on to the United States's trade negotiating agenda. We are very pleased to welcome the U.S. as a participant in the Trans-Pacific trade agreement talks we have with Chile, Singapore, and Brunei on financial services and investment. And we know we will be seeing more of the U.S. through those talks in the coming time.

We have discussed some of the big issues troubling our world at the moment: the fall-out in the world economy at present; the impact of fuel and food price issues, mindful that the United States has, just in very recent weeks, been involved in the G-7/G-8 talks, and talks with other major economies around food security and fuel security. And with respect to food security, we have reaffirmed our common desire for more open markets, conscious that, at this time, there is a green room process going on, which has our trade ministers locked up, endeavoring to get a breakthrough in the green room in Geneva.

But, Secretary of State, we have discussed so many things that are of great interest to my country and to yours today, and many things on which we are working together. And, once again, it has been a pleasure to host you to these talks.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much, Prime Minister. I first want very much to agree and underscore the point that you have made about the state of relations between New Zealand and the United States. I believe that they are in very good shape, and they are in good stead for a lot of reasons. You and the President have developed a very good relationship, one that he values. We have also worked since September 11th on common problems and common interests. And the very strategic discussion that we just had about global challenges, it's always very good to have partners in global challenges with the same values. And the United States and New Zealand, of course, share values.

We have discussed the Middle East, we have discussed the problems of proliferation, and many other issues. But again, let me particularly note, as I did earlier, the very important role that New Zealand has played in Afghanistan. I mentioned that the First Lady, when she was in Bamian, was very impressed with what New Zealand is doing there.

And so, it has been an excellent set of discussions. I look forward to going to Samoa to talk about the problems of Pacific Islands where New Zealand has really taken a very important role in the Pacific. But our relationship in the Pacific goes beyond concerns about security and politics. We share a desire to see the entire Pacific one in which democracies reign. And, therefore, the questions in Fiji have been of concern to us.

But also, we have worked to preserve the environment, to preserve resources. And so, all in all, this, given our very deep values, given our interests in important economic and trade issues that you've mentioned, means that we have a very full agenda. And, in fact, we have engaged in that full agenda.

I look forward to this evening, when I think you are going to give me dinner and some music. And after that, I am going to be on my way back to watch a spirited match for the All Blacks. And so, thank you very much for the wonderful hospitality and reception here.

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: Thank you. There is agreement for two questions from each of New Zealand and U.S. media. So, as the host, can I ask if U.S. media have any issues they would like to raise with either me or Secretary of State?

QUESTION: In your talks this morning with Foreign Minister Peters, you mentioned Zimbabwe. I wondered whether the two of you had had a chance to talk about Zimbabwe, and what you thought could be done to move the talks along in Zimbabwe, apart from applying more sanctions, which is what the U.S. did yesterday.

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: We did, indeed, canvas Zimbabwe briefly in the discussion which we have had. And I said to Secretary of State there is a particular interest in Zimbabwe in our country, because it was in the commonwealth. In many ways, it was a child of the commonwealth. The commonwealth played a part in the eventual change in Zimbabwe which brought majority rule.

However, the story since then has been a sad one, and lead - when the commonwealth sought to exert greater pressure for democracy in Zimbabwe - to Zimbabwe exiting the commonwealth altogether. We have retained a dialogue with South Africa on the role it is playing. We are, obviously, concerned that the discussion that is going to go on in Zimbabwe is not just about how to find a successor within ZANU-PF to Mr. Mugabe. The issue has to be about how the world of the Zimbabwean people can be expressed through the political process.

So, we’ll be watching those talks very, very carefully. We are mindful that there was a non-ZANU-PF majority elected at the March elections, which has not yet been able to speak through a sitting of the parliament.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. I would only add that we have obviously believed that it is important for the Mugabe government to know that the behavior in which it has engaged is simply unacceptable in the international community, and thus the reason for further measures by the United States.

But we have also been in close contact with South Africa. I talked with Foreign Minister Zuma just before coming on this trip, and offered that we are prepared to help in any way that we can. We welcome the enhanced mediation that now includes also the AU and the UN. And believe that that offers some prospect for a more active possibility for resolution.

But that resolution has got to take account of the fact that NDC did win the majority in the only free and fair elections or elections to international standards that have been held in Zimbabwe. The sham election that was held a few weeks ago doesn’t qualify. And so, whatever outcome there is, is simply going to have to take into account the fact that the Zimbabwean people have really not yet had an opportunity to express themselves without fear of intimidation and violence.

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: New Zealand media? Barry Sofer.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, you have talked about the closeness of the relationship between New Zealand and the United States. I am just wondering when we will see joint military exercises between our two countries resuming and are we seen in Washington as a friend or an ally?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, New Zealand is certainly seen as a friend and an ally in -- and one with whom we share values. We have, in recent years, moved beyond a whole host of problems, and we have really structured our relationship and our cooperation to meet the post-September 11th challenges. And we are doing that in a variety of ways. We are doing it in proliferation activity - the proliferation security initiative. New Zealand has been one of the strongest and most active members.

On proliferation problems like Iran or like North Korea, we can always count on New Zealand to be a strong voice for reason, a strong voice for adherence to IAEA requirements, and to Security Council requirements. We have been able to count on New Zealand in terms of counter-terrorism cooperation, in terms of maritime security, in terms of disaster relief. And we have been able to count on New Zealand in challenges like Afghanistan.

And so, I really do see this relationship as having moved very far forward. If there are further impediments to what we need to do, I think we always can look at those and see what more we need to do. But I can tell you that the attitude in Washington of this administration -- and here I speak very strongly for the President -- is that New Zealand is a good partner, and we are working very well together.


QUESTION: I want to take you perhaps off -- to a topic that you may not have discussed, and that is the situation in China ahead of the Olympics. As you may know, there have been some bombings in the run-up. There has just been a new threat from an al-Qaida-linked group to disrupt the Olympics, and the Chinese police have been cracking down on groups, particularly around Shanghai ahead of this.

I am wondering, one, do you have -- are you concerned at all about the security of your country's athletes when you go there? And, Secretary Rice, since you will be at the closing, are you concerned about your own security?

And, B -- or, sorry, two -- at the same time, are you concerned at all that the Chinese may be too heavy-handed, and they may violate human and civil rights as they go ahead with trying to protect (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: It seems to me that the holding of the Olympics for China is a matter of huge national pride. It is also clear that the holding of the Olympics puts the spotlight on China in a way which ensures that where there are grievances and causes, they will get unprecedented international publicity.

In our countries, we are used to having dissent expressed in a way which is peaceful. If it goes over that boundary, of course, there is always a law and order response. But you will have noticed here, today, we have conducted our talks against the background of rather a noisy crowd out on the road who have issues that they want to raise. And in democracies like both of us enjoy, we defend and uphold free speech.

If there are protests in China around the hosting of the Olympics, my call would be on the Chinese authorities, as always, and, as we said in the aftermath of violence and rioting in Tibet, that these things need to be dealt with proportionately, and with all due restraint.
With respect to whether New Zealand has any fears or concerns for the safety of its athletes, no. I have no fears.

SECRETARY RICE: We, of course, take measures, and - both cooperatively and unilaterally, to work on the security and to secure our athletes and delegations that are going. And we have been very active in that regard, the Department of State and a number of other agencies of the U.S. government. But of course, we also will work cooperatively with the Chinese on these issues. So, security is always a concern, but of course it is no greater concern. We are doing what we do under these circumstances.

In terms of the human rights aspects, I would join the Prime Minister in suggesting that China should, by all means, showcase not just the Olympics but an attitude of openness and tolerance. This is something that I think the Chinese themselves make representations about when they were seeking to get the Olympics. And they should carry through on those pledges.

Of course, security threats have to be dealt with, and that is fully understood by everybody. But security should not become in any way a cover to try and deal with dissent. That would be unfortunate. We are hopeful that the Olympic games will come off without a hitch. It is really a wonderful thing for China, and for the Chinese people. The President is looking forward to the opening, and I am looking forward to the closing.

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: Last question, New Zealand media.

QUESTION: Prime Minister, are you satisfied with the explanations offered by Winston Peters on donations, and do you retain confidence in him and as minister of foreign affairs?

PRIME MINISTER CLARK: Firstly, I retain confidence in him as minister of foreign affairs. Secondly, as you will understand, those particular issues are not my focus today. My focus is on a very successful visit by the Secretary of State. I will be giving these issues my attention in the coming days, and as always, taking good advice.

Thank you, Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

Released on July 26, 2008

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