Viewing cable 06WELLINGTON526
Title: FOREIGN MINISTER PETERS' TRIP TO WASHINGTON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06WELLINGTON5262006-07-10 04:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Wellington
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWL #0526/01 1910455
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 100455Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2997
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 4470
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHHJJAA/JICPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L WELLINGTON 000526 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
NOFORN 
 
STATE FOR EAP/FO AND EAP/ANP 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/05/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV NZ
SUBJECT: FOREIGN MINISTER PETERS' TRIP TO WASHINGTON 
 
REF: A. WELLINGTON 486 
     ¶B. WELLINGTON 298 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William McCormick, 
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1.  (C) Summary:  During his July visit to Washington, NZ 
Foreign Minister Winston Peters hopes to focus discussion 
away from the nuclear issue and towards positive areas of 
bilateral cooperation.  Peters, who has from the start of his 
tenure openly called for improved US-NZ relations, will 
quietly press for the President and PMQrk to meet on the 
margins of theQC summit.Q an effort to reinforce areas 
of common interest, Peters also hopes to briefly review NZ's 
efforts in Afghanistan, assistance to the Pacific Islands 
Countries (PICs), and military deployments in E.Timor and the 
Solomons.  Although trade is not in his formal brief he will 
almost certainly mention GNZ's continued interest in a Free 
Trade Agreement with us, while recognizing it's not in the 
cards for now. 
 
¶2.  (C) When Peters was appointed as Foreign Minister outside 
the cabinet, political pundits had predicted he would be 
shunted aside by former Foreign (now Defence and Trade) 
Minister Phil Goff or perhaps even bring down the Government. 
 But while the arrangement remains a bit awkward, Peters 
appears to be working professionally with Goff and the Prime 
Minister and has carved a place for himself in promoting New 
Zealand's relations with the Pacific Islands and Europe. His 
relations with the press remain very rocky, however. Peters 
reportedly views a successful trip to Washington as his most 
important objective to date.  End Summary. 
 
¶3.  (C) Peters hopes his meetings with the Secretary, 
National Security Advisor, members of the Friends of New 
Zealand Caucus, and others will focus on positive aspects of 
the bilateral relationship. According to MFAT staff, he is 
eager to explain areas in which NZ officials are making a 
difference, such as counter-terrorism capacity building 
assistance in the PICs.  He also wants to highlight areas of 
bilateral cooperation, such as WTO Doha round negotiations 
and shared opposition to the UN draft declaration on the 
rights of indigenous peoples. 
 
-------------------------- 
A Penchant for the Pacific 
-------------------------- 
 
¶4.  (C) Peters has been playing a constructive role in the 
Pacific Islands, drawing on his years of experience as a 
Maori politician who's developed close personal ties with 
regional leaders.  So far this year, he has traveled to Fiji, 
Tonga, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, the Cooks, and 
Papua New Guinea.  His "non-linear" approach to his meetings 
reportedly goes over well in the Pacific.  He's known for 
putting people at ease -- perhaps by talking first about 
rugby -- before delivering the Government's message. 
Peters genuinely enjoys meeting with Pacific Islanders of all 
backgrounds.  After his joint trip to the Solomons with 
Australian FM Downer, he remained behind to tour areas 
outside of Honiara (Ref B). One of Peters' most pressing -- 
and challenging -- goals is to convince Pacific Island 
leaders to work jointly to prevent being used as pawns 
between the PRC and Taiwan.  Peters has also stated publicly 
that he does not believe that the United States appreciates 
all that New Zealand is doing in the Pacific. 
 
¶5.  (C) Peters has also traveled twice to Europe in the past 
three months. Visiting Russia after meetings with the EU in 
May, Peters reportedly hit it off with Foreign Minister 
Lavrov.  He went on to Ukraine, the first New Zealand Foreign 
Minister to visit that country.  On the margins of the recent 
Oceanic Summit meeting in Paris during his second trip to 
Europe, Peters convinced European Commissioner for 
Development Michel to provide USD 3 million in EU assistance 
to E. Timor. 
 
------------------------------- 
An Improved US-NZ Relationship? 
------------------------------- 
 
¶6.  (C) Peters has from the start of his tenure as Foreign 
Minister called on the PM and others to improve relations 
with the United States, although in his many public 
statements (Ref A) and meetings with Embassy and U.S. 
officials he has offered no details on how to do this.  In 
some respects, Peters' official position outside government 
has helped him to pursue a more pro-U.S. agenda, unlike Goff, 
who retains some hope of higher office and can't go too far 
against the will of left-leaning Labour Caucus members. 
 
¶7.  (C) Peters puts his pro-U.S. sentiments in practice and 
is warm and open in his contacts with the Ambassador.  MFAT 
is becoming friendlier too: Emboffs understand that a "fatwa" 
of sorts was issued by senior officials there ordering staff 
to be more responsive to us.  The change has been remarkable, 
with officials calling to offer us briefings on issues of 
interest and providing faster and more helpful responses to 
our requests.  MFAT's CEO has approved the issuance of access 
passes for key Embassy officials, and our contacts say the 
idea is that more MFAT staff will remember to contact us if 
they see us walking the halls.  While Peters has not directly 
initiated all of these openings, he's definitely created the 
environment that has encouraged them. 
 
¶8.  (C) How much Peters influences the rest of his 
government's policies towards us and other issues is a more 
open question.  The press claims he and Goff compete for 
control of the foreign affairs portfolio, but our contacts 
tell us they seem to cooperate on a professional level even 
if there is no great warmth between them.  We understand that 
Peters did resent the fact that Goff was the first NZ 
official to visit the Solomon Islands after the recent unrest 
there, as Peters considers the Pacific Islands to be his 
"patch."  (Peters was on travel in Europe at the time.)  But 
when Goff was the first to visit E. Timor -- he caught a 
flight to E.Timor with Australian Defence Minister Hill -- 
Peters reportedly shrugged it off.  Our contacts say that the 
Prime Minister has served as liaison between the two when 
issues overlap.  She and Peters by all accounts have a very 
close working relationship, and last week she attended our 
July 4 reception for the first time as PM.  We wouldn't say 
that Peters alone inspired her to attend, but his influence 
was very possibly a factor. 
 
¶9.  (C) Peters himself is a study in contrasts -- he can be 
charming and outgoing, but also very retiring in certain 
settings, especially in new or unscripted environments.  We 
would not be surprised, for example, if he would need to be 
drawn out a bit during his Washington meetings.  Peters likes 
a good debate, and is considered one of the most skillful 
combatants on the floor of Parliament.  He also maintains 
very thorny relations with the National Party (whose 
Government he did help bring down, when he served in its 
Cabinet in the 90s).  At times this can get the better of 
him, as when he claimed leaked e-mails proved National Party 
leader Don Brash was in contact with U.S. political advisors 
before the elections, despite claims to the contrary.  When 
the Ambassador expressed his displeasure over the incident, 
Peters claimed his target was Brash's credibility, not us. 
We've not heard anything similar since. 
 
¶10.  (C) Peters has an open disdain for the press, especially 
following a series of media stories questioning the wisdom of 
his appointment as Foreign Minister.  His relations with the 
New Zealand Herald are especially strained.  When the paper 
published an article last month claiming he was sensitive 
over Minister Goff's role in foreign affairs, Peters 
countered with a statement listing some fourteen errors the 
paper reportedly had made.  Even his staff, who have told us 
that the story was not true, fear the statement made it seem 
as though it was.  Meanwhile, MFAT has been instructed not to 
tell the press the dates for Peters' trip to the United 
States: he does not want them to know until just before he 
leaves -- or later. 
 
¶11.  (C) One reason the press likes to cover Peters is that 
he leads a colorful life.  He's elegant and witty, owns 
racehorses, and is famous for staying out late.  Most 
observers agree, however, that he seems much more settled 
since starting a relationship earlier this year with Jan 
Trotman, an Auckland-based pharmaceutical executive. 
McCormick