Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met today with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully at the Department of State in Washington, DC. The Secretary and Foreign Minister discussed recent developments in Afghanistan and the Middle East, cooperation in the Asia Pacific region, and the response to the Christchurch earthquake. Secretary Clinton said:
"It's a real pleasure for me to welcome Foreign Minister McCully to the State Department and to return, in some small measure, the wonderful hospitality that I and my team enjoyed when we visited New Zealand late last year. And I know that President Obama is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Key to the Oval Office later this summer.
"Today our two nations are united by shared history, common values, and strong bonds of mutual interest and respect. We've made remarkable progress in a short period of time in strengthening our relationship, one that I think it's fair to say was frozen for about 25 years and we've moved beyond the old challenges and are looking to work together on the many issues that unite us. So I always look forward to meeting with Murray to go over where we are and where we are headed together.
"There are so many important areas where we are cooperating. We're both deeply committed to building a more peaceful and prosperous future for the Asia Pacific. We covered a wide range of matters today in the spirit of cooperation and of the Wellington Declaration that we signed. And I just glanced over there, and I think we are signing it there.
"We reviewed where we are in Afghanistan. New Zealand has done an exemplary job in leading the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan and has also contributed so much elsewhere in Afghanistan. And we greatly appreciate the service and sacrifice of our Kiwi friends. This is going to be especially important since Bamiyan will be one of the first provinces to undergo transition. And we're going to look to New Zealand to give us a lot of insight as to how that is proceeding.
"We discussed developments in the Middle East. The courage of people in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere to stand up for their universal rights has inspired Americans and Kiwis alike. And we're working together to support these emerging democracies. And I welcome New Zealand's decision to contribute to the International Federation of the Red Cross to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Libyan people.
"We looked ahead to the East Asia summit where President Obama will participate for the first time, and the United States will send our largest, most senior delegation ever to the Pacific Island Forum in New Zealand later this year. We talked about developments in Fiji, and both New Zealand and the United States agree that the military junta must take steps to return Fiji to democracy. And we agree on the importance of pursuing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will provide a free trade agreement for nine countries across the region, including both of ours. We're making steady progress on this. We hope to be able to have the negotiations complete by the time we all meet in Hawaii for APEC toward the end of this year.
"So on these and so many other fronts, from curbing climate change to combating nuclear proliferation, we are really joined in common goals and their pursuit. We feel a deep kinship and a very strong friendship.
"And that is why we responded in solidarity when New Zealand faced the devastation of the Christchurch earthquake this last February. I saw firsthand the beauty of Christchurch when I was there in November during my visit, and it was heartbreaking to see the pictures of destruction. We also had a team there led by Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and distinguished Americans who were in the middle of a meeting to really deepen and broaden our cooperation with our friends. The United States sent a search and rescue team. They worked side by side. I think there is a photo up there with their Kiwi counterparts in very difficult conditions. And the American public has responded very generously.
"The American Friends of Christchurch, some of whom are here today, organized a relief effort to assist with earthquake recovery. We have representatives from the United States business community, the foreign policy community, as well as many private citizens. This is chaired by Dr. Peter Watson and Senator Evan Bayh, along with Assistant Secretary Campbell and our ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner. We have many people across our country who love New Zealand, who have personal experience with your country, Minister, and want to stand side by side in solidarity with you as you do what is necessary to recover that beautiful city and make sure that the people there know that they are not alone. So thank you very much for being here and being such a wonderful colleague in our work together."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks with the Foreign Minister here.