Viewing cable 06WELLINGTON167
Title: FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS U.S. SHOULD RECOGNIZE NZ'S

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06WELLINGTON1672006-03-02 02:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Wellington
VZCZCXYZ0005
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWL #0167/01 0610256
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 020256Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2473
INFO RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000167 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR D (FRITZ), EAP/FO, AND EAP/ANP 
NSC FOR VICTOR CHA 
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISA LIZ PHU 
PACOM FOR JO1E/J2/J233/J5/SJFHQ 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV NZ
SUBJECT: FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS U.S. SHOULD RECOGNIZE NZ'S 
REGIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William McCormick, 
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary:  According to Foreign Minister Winston 
Peters, his recent public observation that the United States 
should appreciate New Zealand's contributions in the South 
Pacific was not meant to be a criticism.  Peters assures us 
that he was calling for  both sides to recognize the positive 
aspects of our ties.   Peters is being a bit disingenuous, as 
he delivered his remarks -- as an unscripted portion of a 
seminar speech -- in characteristic firebrand style.  But the 
Embassy  believes Peters genuinely wants to improve the 
bilateral relationship, and he'll be more likely to succeed 
in getting domestic support for his efforts if he is not 
perceived as an unquestioning supporter of U.S. policies. 
End summary. 
 
¶2.  (SBU)  New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters' 
February 21 speech to the New Zealand Institute of 
International Affairs was intended to outline GNZ views on 
New Zealand's Foreign Policy objectives over the next five 
years.  However, in off-the-cuff remarks, Peters said it was 
regrettable that the United States does not appreciate all 
that New Zealand is doing in the South Pacific.  He said, "We 
have the ability to influence in a positive way the views and 
opinions of one quarter of the globe out here in the Pacific, 
all the way beyond Tahiti to Easter Island.  Our connection 
with the Pacific in dealing with the United States is 
important, and I suspect it may be something that they have 
for so long overlooked but in which we have placed so much 
effort and time that we should remind them of what we've done 
and why we're doing it, so that they might better understand 
how 4.2 million people do matter in this world." In follow up 
questions from the media, Peters also said he would raise 
this point in Washington when he visited there, probably 
mid-year. 
 
¶3.  (SBU) This being New Zealand, the local media completely 
ignored the rest of Peter's thoughtful speech and focused on 
his having laid down a marker with the United States: stop 
focusing on the nuclear issue and pay attention to the 
positive aspects of the bilateral relationship.  Most press 
coverage and several academic commentators agreed this was a 
useful message, although at least one observer remarked that 
it should be New Zealand's national interests -- not its need 
for praise -- that dictate the country's South Pacific policy. 
 
¶4.  (C) And of course the media also glossed over the 
observation in Peter's speech that the country's foreign 
policy priorities over the next five years would place equal 
emphasis on bilateral, regional, and multilateral 
engagements.  Peters' declaration that bilateral 
relationships are as important as multilateral institutions 
is significant, as many Kiwi officials and ordinary New 
Zealanders consider the UN to be a quasi-government to which 
New Zealand should declare allegiance.  Although he noted the 
world would be much worse off without the UN, Peters stressed 
the need for UN reform to reflect today's world and he 
pledged New Zealand's constructive participation towards this 
goal.  Peters also said that there is room for both the 
United States and New Zealand to get more benefit from their 
bilateral ties, which would come from recognizing our common 
interests and supporting each other on key issues where 
possible.  Peters added that this was evident in his meeting 
with A/S Hill during the APEC Senior Officials meeting, as 
A/S Hill recognized that New Zealand's position on North 
Korea and its contributions to counter-terrorism efforts and 
regional security support U.S. objectives. 
 
¶5.  (SBU)  The Embassy played down efforts by the New Zealand 
media to declare Peters' remarks a strong criticism of the 
United States.  The Ambassador issued a statement that simply 
said, "As Admiral Fallon noted when he was here recently, the 
United States deeply appreciates the work that New Zealand 
does when it comes to critical security and stability issues 
in the region. I look forward to discussing this and other 
matters with Minister Peters in our continuing 
conversations."  The Prime Minister and Defence (and former 
Foreign) Minister Phil Goff both supported Peters' remarks. 
However, in a meeting late last week, Peters himself told 
Centcom Commander General Abizaid that his comments about the 
U.S. lack of recognition of New Zealand's efforts in the 
region had been "misread."  He also stressed this to the 
Ambassador at a one-on-one lunch on March 1.  Peters said his 
 
intention had been merely to show that the South Pacific in 
general falls under the radar screen and recognition of New 
Zealand's efforts in the region is therefore overshadowed by 
other world events. 
 
¶6.  (C) Comment: We believe Peters is sincere in his desire 
to improve US-New Zealand relations by exploring new areas in 
which to cooperate.  Although the press almost ignored it, in 
remarks after his speech Peters also criticized the UK for 
overlooking the South Pacific despite Britain's historical 
legacy in the region.  But Peters' ultimate objective was 
likely not to criticize us or Britain, but rather to prove 
that although he is out of the Cabinet he is still the 
Government's true messenger on foreign affairs issues. One 
local journalist remarked that Peters' speech also shows that 
despite the views of many, he is capable of handling his 
portfolio and anxious to leave his mark. Whatever the case, 
Peters' attempts to improve the bilateral relationship will 
get a fairer hearing from NZ officials and the Kiwi public if 
he is seen as being a bit skeptical about us. 
McCormick