Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Washington, DC
September 9, 2010

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I often notice that when people introduce folks, they say things that are nice – and I’m very grateful for Ernie -- but when I get introduced, people always say things like “he has a very special style.” And you notice in Asia that often can go kind of both ways if you know what I’m saying. So it’s great to be here. I also want to just thank the ambassador and John. I just – there isn’t one word either of them said that I wouldn’t support 100 percent, and it’s great to be on this panel with them.

I have to also say, just as a quick tribute to Ernie, not only is this report and this effort unbelievably timely – unbelievably timely – and it is also the case that we are at the best possible place that we can be in terms of 25 years, but there is so much we can do over the course of the next couple of years. And this report can be a vision document, it can be a roadmap, it can help convene and drive this relationship over the next couple of years, and I could not be more enthusiastic about it. I just – there’s just – all of you know Ernie’s been at CSIS for, I think, just about a year. I’ve never seen a person energize a set of issues more effectively than Ernie has, and it’s just fantastic to work with him. And the fact that CSIS is taking on this study at a time that we’re in such a critical phase, I just couldn’t be more supportive of our entire team at the State Department. And the Pentagon and the White House are anxious to help and support this effort as we go forward.

I have to say, I was struck when the ambassador was talking about tourism. I have my own tourism story which I will just relate to you very quickly. It’s so wonderful to see so many friends in the audience. One of my closest and dearest friends is here, Peter Watson, who, frankly, is a son of New Zealand and introduced me to the country. And his father served with great distinction during the Battle of Britain and just had a great opportunity to get to know the country through him.

I was on vacation there with him and four other fellows at the end of my time at the Pentagon. And my wife – I have a whole slew of daughters now, but she was pregnant with our first one. It was a little bit of a difficult pregnancy and I had to come for business, but then we took a little time subsequently. My wife was about eight months pregnant and I still recall we had an unbelievably wonderful time, just off the charts, and I was on the phone. Peter had a cell phone and we were calling and my wife said, “Well, how’s it going?” And I was on the phone with her and I said, “I’m having the best time I’ve ever had in my entire life.” (Laughter.) And Peter was good enough to give me some advice subsequently – (laughter) – how to fine tune those talking points, so – (laughter) – but unfortunately, a little too late for that particular encounter. But I want to thank Peter for his friendship and support of this relationship as we go forward.

We also have to take a moment not only to recognize the challenge that the people of Christchurch are facing. When I was in New Zealand about a month ago, unfortunately, we were there during the tragic demise of one of New Zealand’s finest in Afghanistan. I just want to take a moment to recognize the contributions of New Zealand and the sacrifices they are making along with us in critical places like Afghanistan.

I just want to say a couple of things, if I can, about the relationship and about where I think we need to go. First of all, when governments come into power, they always do studies and, sort of, reviews. And it seemed to us, as we came into power, although there had been some initial steps taken to improve the relationship – and that effort was already well underway, and we really need to commend the good, strong work of the Bush Administration and of Chris Hill – but when we did our review, it became very clear that this was a bilateral relationship that was profoundly underperforming.

And when John very delicately said, when we were divided by just a couple of issues, the truth is it was one issue, in fact. And in every other issue, when it comes to issues of poverty, of climate change, of regional architecture, New Zealand has been a friend, a supporter, a sounding board. And it was very clear to us that we needed to take steps to move beyond some of the challenges that we have faced over the last 25 years on nuclear related-matters and focus more on the issues that unite us than those that are difficult or challenging, that one issue.

And so we’ve put that issue aside and we are focusing now on the issues that are most important for us as we move forward. That doesn’t mean in any way that that particular issue, the nuclear issue, is not a difficult one. It is, but there are so many other matters that really require a closer coordination and cooperation between the United States and New Zealand.

What we’ve seen over the course of the last couple of years is a deeper interaction at the highest levels. Ambassador Moore delicately said that Prime Minister Key came up and made a contribution at the Nuclear Summit. I would go well beyond that. I was there at the Nuclear Summit. One of the key players who animated the discussions, who drove the deliberations, was Prime Minister Key, already a key player on the international stage. And he developed real chemistry with President Obama. And I was struck at how important New Zealand’s contribution was on nuclear issues.

And I must say, in many respects, what we saw with the Nuclear Summit was the United States and other countries really adopting an agenda that New Zealand has championed for decades. And so in many respects, it was a validation of the strong, clear principles of nuclear security and nonproliferation that New Zealand has believed in, has made part of their national policy, for decades. And I think it was a very welcome development, and I cannot imagine a more effective prosecutor of those national policies than Prime Minister John Key.

In addition, we’ve had a series of interactions at the Pacific Island Forum. And those meetings have been critical for us. I think one of the things that we’ve heard not only from Australia and New Zealand is that the United States needs to profoundly step up its game in the Pacific. And if you look over the course of 20 years, we have essentially walked away from some of our most important historic, strategic, and moral commitments to the Pacific, areas where our forefathers, my father, fought and Americans died, and work towards bringing a better future. New Zealand has been one of those countries that has urged the United States to play a more active role not just in the security of the Pacific, but in the prosperity and the humanitarian challenges that many of these poor, small island nations face, and we are trying to do so.

You will notice that later this month, Secretary Clinton will be meeting with all the heads of the all the Pacific Island states and will be underscoring our return in some measure to the Pacific. We are restarting our USAID missions in the Pacific, something that had been suspended several years ago. That is a specific recommendation from our New Zealand friends. And we look to work on a range of issues going forward in the islands in particular. When you look at the issues that we have the potential to work on going forward, I just want to underscore a few of them. Clearly, a lot of follow-on work associated with the Nuclear Summit; again, Prime Minister Key helping drive the agenda in terms of what’s next and the subsequent meeting in South Korea. New Zealand will be playing a key role there.

We are continuing to work closely together, the challenges that we’re facing now in Afghanistan, and again, very grateful for the support on the ground from our New Zealand friends. So we are working to engage in not only some exercises, but also some sharing of critical information on the issues that we’re facing in Afghanistan, per se. We are also working much more closely on regional security and political issues in the Asia-Pacific region overall. If you look at the travel patterns and engagement, for instance, of China, the level of engagement that China has with New Zealand is quite extraordinary. And in many respects, we can learn from New Zealand friends about their own engagement on political and trade issues.

And so we are beginning a series of discussions with New Zealand about the larger Asia-Pacific regions, something that we’ve done in an ad hoc manner in the past, but we’re hoping to do in a more structured way going forward. We are trying to work with New Zealand on critical issues, new cutting-edge security in political matters like climate change. Clearly, this is an area, again, where New Zealand – like nuclear issues in the past, New Zealand is on the cutting edge. And we are looking forward to that closer coordination going forward.

We – the ambassador talked, I think, powerfully about the TPP and I don’t think there’s much I can add to that; only that we will look for New Zealand to help drive us, to provide inspiration, and to support this effort. And we share his view that this can be a critical ingredient in an effective, optimistic, outward looking economic agenda of the United States, and it’s just absolutely essential and one of the reasons that the ambassador is here. And when he talks about coming back into public service and putting on the uniform, he believes his – one of his key roles will be to drive this negotiation forward, and we welcome that, we support that, and we are heartened by it. And I look forward, personally, to engaging with him on this critical effort in the months ahead.

And then finally, New Zealand has been a big supporter of the United States in terms of architecture. If you look at Europe, for instance, you have really dramatic innovations over the course of the last 30 years in terms of architecture. Asia has been relatively slow to build the kinds of deep organizational institutions that will help drive the future in terms of politics and security and economics. And it was New Zealand among other countries that really encouraged the United States to take a role and join the East Asia Summit. And we’re grateful for that and we are having consultations with New Zealanders about that role ahead.

If I can just say a word about what I think is going to be important for this study going forward, one of the things that I am struck by in government is how much structured mechanisms drive the agenda of government. So if you look at what our senior officials do, they spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with our friends in Europe. Now, Europe is extremely important, critical for our future and our past, but the bilateral and multilateral mechanisms that are in place really provide, in many respects, a calendar of engagement. And so one of the things that I would look for in this study are recommendations about structure, recommendations about specific meetings that will help organize the effort of both of our governments. I can’t think of a more timely report.

I want to, again, commend CSIS. I see the wonderful president of CSIS, John Hamre, is here. We followed him. I just got back from Beijing. In every meeting I had, the senior leader would say, “Well, we just heard from Dr. Hamre, and he said X.” And so we were all taking notes trying to make sure that our talking points matched his. Grateful for his leadership on this effort. We think this is absolutely essential. We scanned the literature. There’s really been nothing like it for a considerable period of time. This is really a unique opportunity, and very grateful for Ernie and for the entire team in taking this on. And we look forward to working closely with him in this not only the, as he said, the Tommy Koh principle, not only be the ultimate outcome, but the process itself –

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MR. BOWER: Thank you, Kurt. We have time for several questions, but we will wrap up at the end of the hour. So just usual rules: Please just identify yourself and the organization you’re with. I think I saw the hand in the back and then we’ll go to you.



QUESTION: How are you? Connie Lawn for Scoop. New Zealand welcomes you, Ambassador. I appreciate the words, as you’ve all said, about Christchurch about the earthquake and I know the State Department has done a lot. I’ve been trying to find out whether President Obama has called the Prime Minister or called anybody in New Zealand or whether he plans to. And is the U.S. giving any direct help to New Zealand right now?

AMBASSADOR MOORE: I almost found about the earthquake because the U.S. ambassador in Wellington rang me, and Kurt rang, and people are ringing. And I’m just overwhelmed with the solidarity that’s been shown. I don’t know, frankly, whether the President himself has rung, but we were asked to pass on his thoughts and solidarity with our people, so we are very, very pleased with what we’ve heard from all our friends in the States, at all levels, at all levels, from the highest chap in the restaurant.

QUESTION: I’m Foster Klug with the Associated Press. I was hoping to ask Secretary Campbell a question about another big story in Asia – the political meetings in North Korea. What does the United States expect from these meetings? Do you see them as pivotal? Do you see them as not changing much in the scheme of things? And also on the nuclear talks, does the United States need an apology or an admission of guilt from North Korea before those talks can go forward?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. I’m happy to answer the question. I do want us to focus most of the session, if at all possible, on New Zealand. We’ll have lots of opportunities subsequently.

I think the meeting you’re talking about is the Party Congress that’s taking place in North Korea. To be perfectly honest, we’re also watching for the next couple of days about what to expect and there have been lots of reports about possible introductions of Kim Jong-il’s son and some role that he may playing. In truth, we have really no indication one way or the other, and we are watching like others in Asia.

I think it would be fair to say that we are in the process of deep consultations not just with our allies, but also with others in the surrounding region about next steps associated with North Korea. Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Kim will be in Asia next week. I think we believe that it will be critical for there to be some element of reconciliation between the North and the South for any process to move forward, and we’ve communicated that very clearly to all parties involved.

MR. BOWER: Yeah, my fault, I should have said at the outset, please do focus on New Zealand questions for this meeting.


QUESTION: Thanks. Shaun Tandon with AFP. I’ll stick to New Zealand on this. But for Secretary Campbell and for the ambassador, I know you mentioned that you want to move beyond just the one disagreement, but what about that disagreement, the nuclear issue? Is there a way for the U.S.-New Zealand to be full-fledged allies despite the disagreements on the nuclear issue, and perhaps has President Obama’s stance changed the dynamic?

AMBASSADOR MOORE: Well, I think Kurt made the point. There is a difference, but it’s not such a big difference that it stops us cooperating at just about every other corner of the world, and that difference stays. But here’s the truth: In Afghanistan, and all sorts of places, New Zealanders are working alongside Americans and we’re in places where America is not, but where America’s interests are involved, but we can do the job, whether it’s Timor or whether it’s Solomon Islands or whatever. So I’m not saying things have moved away, but they have moved forward, and we find all these points of light where we cooperate. This may well be a subject for historians to puzzle about in the future.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I would just simply say I think that the United States and New Zealand currently are the closest possible of friends and we share – and I think one of the things that we are finding in our initial discussions about a range of issues is how close our regional, global, economic, and strategic perceptions are about the way forward. In fact, I will tell you quite honestly, the United States and New Zealand see the world in such similar terms – in fact, in many respects, much closer than some countries that would be described as formal allies in the current environment. I think I’m heartened by that, and I think it’s a fantastic foundation to build on to move forward.

QUESTION: I’m Dick Allen. Forty-eight years ago I had the pleasure of turning the key in the door of a building in Georgetown that started the Center for Strategic Studies – then in Georgetown, and now CSIS. And at that time, I stepped aside after turning the key to the door to allow Admiral Arleigh Burke and David Abshire, my two colleagues, and a secretary in. We were four people. Admiral Burke was a great admirer of New Zealand and Admiral Burke had many friends there. The study probably represents the culmination of his feelings, and I commend all of those involved with it, since I know several of them indeed quite well. I also respond to Mike Moore’s blogs, but he stopped writing his blog from when he was named ambassador.

I live in New Zealand and I’m also affiliated with this institution on its advisory board and with the Hoover Institution. I lecture at the University of Otago in New Zealand, New Zealand’s oldest university not far from Christchurch, which is a competing university. And I’m also a grape grower in the Gibbston Valley, which is the way I like to identify myself on shows like Kim Hill, Nine-to-Noon, and in my editorials and op-eds that I write for the Otago Daily Times. So I watch both places. We spend many months in both the United States and in Washington, and I know Washington’s ways. I’ve served as National Security Advisor here at home and international and trade advisor to President Nixon at the time, to go way, way back.

This relationship is key, and it’s appropriate that we have a John Key and a Bill English and a Murray McCully, all extremely able individuals who are completely dedicated, I’m sure, to this process, just as Mike is and Kurt is on this side. And I’d like to commend also – and this would be an exception in many areas of today – the work of Secretary Clinton, (inaudible) aided and abetted by Kurt in every respect on each initiative, for having taken steps to restore a relationship with our allies in the region and with our partners in the region, such as Singapore, especially Tommy Koh who has long been an advocate of no longer being neglected.

So this transpacific partnership gives great hope here. I was – sat with Jim Sutton the night that – of the free trade agreement with China many years ago and was surprised. But here it was, little New Zealand, that four million people signing a free trade agreement with China, yet cannot get one, as of yet, with the United States. The difficulties lie in the Congress and that long-winded explanation might help lead to the question: What will be done about the United States Congress? Because it’s the United States Congress that will impede and prohibit, based on present interests, any transpacific partnership that involves an additional five or six free trade agreements, when not even the Mexican free trade agreement can be implemented fully, and we have others that are on the doorstep, such as the ROK, much less now begin with five or six ones of many regions that we don’t really fully understand and know much about.

I apologize for the length of that, but the question encapsulates lots of difficulty and lots of work, maybe even beyond Secretary Campbell’s tenure over the next four – he thinks eight years, but I’m not so sure. (Laughter.)

AMBASSADOR MOORE: It was polite – I said man essentially a political animal. None of us underestimate the politics. And there are friends in this room who can assist us with this. We have to carry the load as well. There’s a responsibility on us, the partnership members. And while I’ve listened to the arguments, you keep thinking and learning. We must get Tommy Koh down, and he can run a good dinner. We must apply the multiplier effect to all the partners (inaudible). I remind you, Australia, Singapore, Brunei – most likely Vietnam – Peru, Chile, this is getting at critical mass.

And I’ve learned that we don’t know everything. If we were so clever, we would have done it. And we are studying carefully how the Aussies and Chile and others did it. We are meeting as a group. We understand that we have to do the work. And we have friends in high places. We have friends in a couple of low places as well. (Laughter.) All we will be asking you, sir, and other dear friends at certain times to make the case. But this is about everybody winning. And this is about a group – I like to call the true believers – who are adults, who want to do something serious about the 21st century to produce a model, going right back to supply lines, the whole deal.

In the WTO we compromise a lot. In APEC we compromise a lot. Let’s get something up here of stunning substance that can be announced at a certain time, which I hope will urge the work Geneva and prove an inspiration into others in APEC.

To me this is an enormous disappointment. I thought the Doha round was going to do it. It hasn’t, unfortunately, yet. But this is not a contradiction to Doha nor is it a contradiction to APEC. But we have to do the work as well. We understand this is a complex town, huh? We understand we have to do our share. Having best friends is not enough.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, let me just, can I just say a word to thank Richard for his service and also for his prodding over decades about this relationship. I remember he came to see me when I was in the Pentagon in the 1990s and urged then we needed to do more with New Zealand. And I guess this would be in one of those categories, Richard, of better late than never and it’s, in many respects, a fulfillment of your commitment to the relationship.

And I have not tasted the wine from your vineyard, but I look forward on the next trip down. I’m going to come in February and I’ll look forward, hopefully, to open a bottle with you on that.

If I can just say just one thing, and again, I understand all the complexities of the politics of trade and economic engagement. I spend my life in Asia. I spend a lot of time on the road. I was, again, which on we were in China. Anyone who does not understand the drama that’s playing out in Asia in terms of trade and economics, and that many countries in Asia want more, not less, of the United States. And they want us off the sidelines. They want us to be traditionally, as we have been, optimistic, not anxious. They want us committed on the playing field of Asia’s trade, macro-economic, and other economic playing fields. And it’s just an inexorable logic of our engagement. And so we all recognize some of the difficulties. My own personal view is that the United States has to understand the imperative of this kind of engagement.

And I agree with the ambassador on TPP, and I must say I see his hand at work already in terms of bringing people together, making the logic for a high-quality engagement, underscoring that the region will not wait – it will not wait for us. It has slowed down a little bit so that we can get on. But it’s not going to wait very much longer. And we need to understand the imperative that rests right in front of this generation of Americans. And that’s one of the reasons that, frankly, we were so grateful that the government decided to go and have Mike suit up again to come up and serve his country so effectively on issue that, frankly, we all are looking to help us chart this new course.

MR. BOWER: I’d like to – I’m sorry, we’re not going to be able to do additional questions. We’ve gone over time, and we won’t be able to do these things if I keep these guys over time they won’t come back. (Laughter.) So thank you all for coming, particularly thanks –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Can I give you one other – just as we conclude –

MR. BOWER: Yeah.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: One other suggestion, Ernie, I think there is enough of a community that you might want to consider doing a relatively regular lunch or meeting in which you have people speak about the issues that are animating the U.S.-New Zealand relationship and what the role that New Zealand plays. I think it would be very valuable to go forward, and that would be something that, I think, in addition, to this overall effort here – sorry to interrupt here.

MR. BOWER: No, no, that’s good. And we’ll work with John Mullen on that initiative. I think that’s a great recommendation.

Thank you. Ambassador, thank you. Thank you, Kurt Campbell. Thank you, John Mullen. (Applause.)

# # #