Remarks at Christchurch Town Hall Meeting with Students and Civic Leaders
Secretary of State
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MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Therese Arsenau. I’m from the University of Canterbury. And I have to say I have a very easy job this afternoon. I’m introducing a woman who needs absolutely no introduction. It’s fair to say that Mrs. Clinton has been at the very heart of American political power and a political heavyweight for two decades, and she’s now brought these incredible qualities to the world stage as well.
So I’d like to focus instead on two things that I think make her absolutely extraordinary. It has been a career unlike any other. She has followed her own unique political path from First Lady to Secretary of State, and I think it’s that – taking that road less traveled by that has given her a unique perspective that makes her so valuable in the role of Secretary of State.
The second thing, of course, is that she’s a powerful role model for women, one of only 38 women ever to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first elected to represent the state of New York. Mrs. Clinton won more partisan delegates than any other female candidate in presidential primary history, and I have to say that it was a race that had us in New Zealand absolutely transfixed, even to the point when our own national election was taking place at the same time, and I’m afraid it sort of paled in comparison. (Laughter.) It was a really exciting campaign.
But of course, she is here to recommit, as she said, to the U.S.-New Zealand partnership. And some people talk about the thawing of relations that came yesterday that was a sign of the Wellington (inaudible). I see it more as a coming of age of the relationship. And it’s a relationship based on unity and diversity. We are deciding to build unity on the shared positions that we have in foreign policy, while still allowing and recognizing that we have distinct views on other issues.
And we’ve already seen the fruits of the labor in the announcement yesterday of an issue that I think would be very close to your heart, Madam Secretary – a program about the empowerment of women in the Pacific. And that was something that’s also very dear to my heart.
So that’s why she’s in New Zealand. She’s come to Christchurch in particular – and I heard just as I walked in that she is, in fact, the first Secretary of State to officially visit this town. And she’s come in solidarity with us post-earthquake. And I think as Canterburians, we’ve been incredibly moved by the reaction of people around the country and around the world, and we certainly do appreciate you coming here today.
So it is with great pleasure that I welcome the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Christchurch and to the podium. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon and Kia Ora. I want to thank Dr. Arsenau for that introduction and for her kind words about our relationship, which is such an important reason as to why I’m here for my first visit to New Zealand and my very first visit to Christchurch. I want to thank Mayor Parker for his introduction. I want to recognize Gerry Brownlee, the earthquake recovery minister. This is a very hard job and we’re very grateful for your leadership. And I am delighted to have heard and to see just a little bit with my own eyes about how Christchurch has rebounded from the September 4th earthquake.
It’s hard to imagine for someone like me coming in now that a quake of the magnitude of 7.1 could have hit just two months ago. Many people deserve recognition for this speedy recovery, including both the mayor and the minister, but so many others – members of your local fire brigades and police departments, the men and women who did so much in the aftermath of the quake. And I want to acknowledge the students at Canterbury University who set up a Facebook page for volunteers and within three days had organized more than 1,300 people into cleanup crews.
For everyone here in Christchurch, the United States sends its best wishes and lets you know that I’m very impressed by how this community responded, and more than that, I recognize that Kiwis come to the aid of so many others when they’re in need, including those countries that had been devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the Samoan tsunami last year. Americans admire your willingness to step up and do whatever is needed and do it with resilience and irrepressible good cheer. These core Kiwi and American attributes are the foundation of the long friendship between our two countries.
Earlier today, I visited the War Memorial in Wellington. I met veterans from World War II and Korea, Vietnam, and those who are serving today. We have shared the sacrifice and the service of so many of our brave citizens together. And now in Afghanistan, the United States is proud to work with your Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan Province and your elite special air services in Kabul.
Our scientists are working together to understand better the effects of climate change, and I just came from an event out at the airport at the U.S.-New Zealand Antarctica project to thank the people of Christchurch and New Zealand for the support that they have given to generations of American scientists and researchers who, working side by side with your own, have begun to unlock the mysteries of Antarctica which have direct impact and relevance to our challenge from climate change, and in fact have constructed wind turbines for renewable energy so we do not have to transport so much fuel, and have also engaged just recently with a New Zealand crew rescuing an American worker.
Our student exchange programs strengthen long-term bonds, and we are cooperating on health innovation, sustainable energy, biofuels, and so much more. We have made a decision in the Obama Administration that we want to broaden and deepen our relationship, look for ways we can work together on the challenges of the 21st century, from nonproliferation to the alleviation of poverty, from women’s rights to violent extremism.
And so yesterday, the foreign minister and I signed the Wellington Declaration which commits both of our countries to deepening our cooperation. It declares our goal of promoting sustainable development and strong democratic institutions across the Pacific region. And it sets the stage for a deeper, more regular dialogue on these important challenges. And it signals that we will work together through global and regional institutions like the East Asia Summit.
Now, we do not agree on every issue. I don't know two countries that do; I don't even know two people who do. And nuclear issues have divided us. But we share a common goal. Both of us are committed to creating a world without nuclear weapons. In fact, President Obama has set that as a vision for the United States. Now, I’m aware it may not happen in his lifetime or in yours, but it must remain a goal that we continue slowly but surely to move toward. And in the meantime, we agree that we must never allow nuclear materials to fall into the wrong hands, so we were very pleased that Prime Minister Key came to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington early this year.
There is an enormous agenda ahead of both of our countries and also between our peoples. It will not surprise you to hear that New Zealand is highly admired by Americans who are intrigued by what you have built here, who are trying to understand rugby and the great attraction that it holds, and who are very committed to learning more about New Zealand. And I’m particularly committed to learning more from you.
So what I’d like to do now is to take your questions and comments. Our Ambassador who is here has started a very important, innovative program in Wellington where he reaches out and has students from all the universities throughout New Zealand – I think I am told there are eight major ones – who have students chosen to serve as advisors and sounding boards so that we learn more about what younger people in New Zealand are thinking. And as the example of the Canterbury students show with using Facebook for putting together cleanup crews, there are new ways of connecting and communicating that are part of what I’m trying to do as Secretary of State in establishing what I call 21st century diplomacy.
And so let’s get into any thoughts, questions, ideas or comments that anyone here might have, and Therese will call on people if you want to raise your hand. And I’ll be happy to have this dialogue. So who wants to start? Here’s a hand right there. And please identify yourself just for purposes of introduction.
QUESTION: Firstly, Madam Secretary, thank you so much for coming to our beautiful country.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: My name is Andrew (inaudible). I am especially privileged to be able to ask you a question today. Kelly (inaudible) and I here are both post-graduate students from the University of Otago School of Business, and we’re both particularly interested in negotiating an alternative dispute resolution. We understand that you were recently very instrumental in getting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table to continue to discuss peace settlement.
And we are basically curious as to how you went about achieving this, and also if you could perhaps provide us with your views on approaching difficult negotiation situations. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m delighted that you and Kelly are interested in dispute resolution and negotiations, because that’s the core of diplomacy, but it’s also the core mechanism in politics, in democracies, in business, and in families to negotiate toward what preferably are win-win, not zero-sum outcomes.
Specifically with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as you’re well aware, there have been many negotiations going back many years, most particularly back to the Oslo process. And unfortunately, there has not yet been a resolution of the outstanding issues in the conflict. And it is an incredibly intense, emotionally fraught set of issues for both peoples, which makes any negotiation hard to get into, hard to continue, and hard to resolve. But we bring in our government a commitment to a two-state solution – the state of Israel being accepted and secure and able to live in peace with its neighbors, and the people in Palestine having a state of their own that gives them sovereignty and the right to fulfill Palestinian aspirations.
When the Obama Administration came into office, it was a particularly difficult time. There was a conflict going on in Gaza that the Israelis had entered into in an effort to end the bombardment of rockets by Hamas from the territory of Gaza. The Israelis were in the midst of elections. And it took some months to sort out who would actually be the prime minister and what kind of coalition the prime minister would have, and Prime Minister Netanyahu emerged from that process. So it was not until June of ’09 that we really began to have serious conversations, although President Obama and I appointed former Senator Mitchell on the second day of the Obama Administration to head up our efforts. He had been, as some of you know, very successful in helping my husband and the Irish and British governments work toward the Good Friday accords of Northern Ireland.
So we were pleased when Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly declared his support for a two-state solution, something that he had not done previously. And we began working with him and with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. As you know, the Palestinian political situation became even more complex when Fatah and Hamas split and Hamas essentially conducted a coup against the Palestinian Authority and took over Gaza, so that the Palestinian Authority is able to exercise jurisdiction at this time in the West Bank. So you already start with a division among the Palestinians, with the Palestinian Authority committed to a two-state solution, committed to the path of negotiations, with Hamas committed to violence and rejectionism – an intensely complex set of players and factors.
But we have worked very hard to get the two sides, namely the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, talking about final status issues. And the negotiations are proceeding in a context of difficulty because of demands that all settlement efforts cease, and the United States supports that, believes that settlements are not legitimate, but recognizes the political reality in Israel that has to be dealt with.
So I guess the bottom line for me is if you wish to be someone who helps to guide and participate in negotiations, you must have a high threshold for disappointment, for setbacks, for the give-and-take, the to-and-fro of human interaction. And you have to stay very focused on finding whatever areas of potential common purpose you can. And we are very committed to this because we think it’s in the interests of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but more than that, we think it’s in the interests of the larger region, and indeed, the world.
So just a final word on negotiations in general – there’s a lot of good information that has developed over the last quarter century about how to do negotiations, what works, what doesn’t work, what kind of styles are sort of more common than others. But you just have to get comfortable doing what feels right for you and you just need a lot of practice. You just have to go out there and do it and try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I did a lot of negotiating as a lawyer back in the days that I was a practicing lawyer, and then certainly as a senator in all kinds of political settings, and now as Secretary of State.
And I’m delighted to hear that you know the importance of doing this. And we need a lot more people who are able to put aside their own preconceptions, their own prejudices, their own feelings, and work with parties who come with plenty of those and give them the space and the encouragement to try to find some common ground. In today’s world, that’s a very, very important function to perform. Thank you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name is Dr. (inaudible). I am part of the Te Ohaakii a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together. We were part of a government task force for action on sexual violence. I wanted to thank you for your address to the UN in September 2009 where you placed the sexual violence against women and girls as a core concern for security. And you commented that to solve this issue, women needed to be at the table.
And I would like to share an inspiring story from New Zealand where our community groups have come together and we have formed a two-caucus community national network, one representing Maori, one non-Maori, and we came to the government and we said we come in – treaty relationship. And we formed a partnership with the government and we got a task force for action on sexual violence.
I just wondered, in your travels as Secretary of State, whether you come across a similar partnership between indigenous people and non-indigenous people, and also in partnership with the government, because this has been written about in papers at a conference as being quite a unique outcome.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, thank you for focusing on this issue. Gender and sexual-based violence is a scourge that affects literally millions of women, and in some settings, very acutely, it is increasingly used as a tool of war and conflict to not only exert power, but to break the spirit of families and communities. And it is a matter that I am very committed to speaking out about and looking for realistic answers to.
I do not know of any other specific program like the one you’re describing which has in New Zealand Maori and non-Maori participants in partnership with your government. But I think it’s an excellent idea and I commend you and everyone associated with it. But part of our challenge is, first and foremost, to raise the visibility of this issue.
I was just in Papua New Guinea before coming here and I met with a lot of the women there. And they talked about the many issues that they are coping with, but violence against women was right at the top of the list. A high prevalence of such violence against girls and women undermines the productivity, the livelihoods, the parenting abilities, the community-building efforts of not just slices of society, but society as a whole.
So I’m raising this as I travel around the world, and I am pleased that the United Nations is finally focusing on this. They’re focusing on it both on its own but also in the context of conflicts, probably the most horrific example of that in the world today being the Eastern Congo. I went to Goma, met with some of the survivors of these attacks by primarily Congolese army soldiers and militia members of the many different groups all fighting each other in Eastern Congo.
And I was pleased that just recently, the United Nations Secretary General has made two excellent appointments – a long-serving political leader from Scandinavia, Special Representative Wallström, and the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who will become – or has become the head of something called UN Women.
So we’re raising the visibility and I think it starts close to home; it starts in our own communities where there can be zero tolerance for violence against women and girls, and where there has to be more education. I’ve worked in this area for probably 30 years, and when we first started, we really had to make the case that it was not just cultural, that there were not just some people, certain kinds of people for whom that sort of violence was just part of who they were and their traditions and their history.
We made it very clear that violence against women was not cultural; it was criminal. And therefore, we had to work with the police and the courts in the United States. One of the leaders on this is our Vice President Joe Biden; when he was a senator, was the principal sponsor of legislation called the Violence Against Women Act. So we’ve been at this in the United States. We have a lot more awareness now of the problem, a lot more programs to respond to it, we have hotlines and shelters. And so we have certainly worked at confronting it and eliminating it, and yet even, I have to say, in our own country it remains a significant social problem.
And then around the world, the more we can not only do what you’re doing internally in New Zealand, but link up groups like yours and governments like yours, the more we can make progress together. So I’m hopeful that this issue will be right up there on the top of the agenda. And I just have to conclude by saying that I know that sometimes, people say to me, “Well, isn’t that – I mean, that’s an important issue, but it’s not like negotiating Middle East peace or ending other conflicts or taking on nonproliferation.” And I just respectfully disagree.
I think where you do not start with respect for the human rights of the people closest to you, you can unfortunately unleash behaviors that have repercussions throughout society. And where women and girls are not respected and accorded their full rights, then it’s not far from there to societies like the one we are together trying to help in Afghanistan, where you go from it being just a little problem of somebody else till all of a sudden, there are no girls going to school. There is a direct line between extremism and repression of women. In fact, my colleagues and I around the world often remark on the fact that most extremist groups not confined to any one religion, but in fact, extremists in every religion always seem to end up trying to undermine the rights of women for reasons that escape me. I don’t understand where that comes from, but it unfortunately is all too common.
So kudos to you and I’ll look to be kept informed about what you’re doing.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is Vicki (inaudible). I am a student at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School. As a young person who is living in a world where we find it desirable and indeed necessary to balance toleration with national security, I’d like to hear how the United States defines the wrong hands that nuclear weapons could fall into.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, you’d like to hear me what? I couldn’t understand the very end of what you said.
QUESTION: What is the United States’ position on the wrong hands that you describe nuclear weapons may fall into?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That nuclear materials could fall into?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, excellent question. It is probably our single biggest fear in the United States Government that nuclear devices or nuclear materials can fall into the hands of terrorist groups or rogue regimes that would use them against either their own people or others. And I did a lot of work on this when I was a senator because the fact is we have overwhelming, credible evidence that al-Qaida has sought nuclear materials for years. And you understand why, because it is – if you’re talking about terrorism, it is the ultimate terrifying prospect.
But we are equally concerned about countries like North Korea which engage in provocative and belligerent acts such as the recent sinking, unprovoked sinking of the South Korean ship by a North Korean torpedo. Their continuing search for nuclear information, expertise, over the course of the last number of years, has led to them exploding nuclear weapons and we know that they are still, unfortunately, focused on building up their arsenal. And it is a very dangerous situation, so we would like to see the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
At the recent Nuclear Security Summit that your prime minister attended at the invitation of President Obama, there were a number of cases cited and discussed where countries had intercepted smugglers who – particularly from the former Soviet Union, had gotten their hands on nuclear materials and were selling them in the market to – or attempting to sell them in the market to various and sundry buyers. And so we are deeply concerned about that.
And we are also very worried about Iran’s continuing efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. And I want to draw a distinction here because I think it’s an important one and to hear it from me directly. We have no problem with anyone obtaining nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes. We think that’s one of the answers in a big menu of answers to climate change. We do have a real problem with a country like Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, which has the unfortunate consequence of intimidating their neighbors and making it more likely that if they proceed to obtain a nuclear weapon, then other neighbors will feel they have to as well.
It’s an intensely difficult environment where knowledge cannot be contained, where people who have information or expertise can go into the marketplace and sell it. The United States was deeply concerned about the nuclear scientist behind Pakistan’s program selling his expertise to a number of countries, including North Korea. We follow constantly reports of other countries trying to do business with North Korea to get their own foot in the door on nuclear weapons.
So the consequences are incredibly dangerous if this proceeds, which is why we worry about it and why we do things like the Nuclear Security Summit which New Zealand participated in. So that countries that are responsible, governments that understand the risk that this poses to people, can work together to try to prevent it from coming to fruition.
When intelligence experts and security experts come together and they’re asked what is your biggest worry, what is the biggest threat we face, invariably they say a suitcase-size nuclear bomb that would have very grave consequences, if not in tens of thousands of lives killed depending upon the kiloton impact, would contaminate areas, would serve as the ultimate tool of terrorism – because what is terrorism for but to terrorize people. And that’s why we worry about it and that’s why we have a lot of people working every day to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.
QUESTION: Welcome, Madam Secretary. My name is Ruth Richardson, and when I was much younger I served as this country’s first woman minister of finance. I ask the question on behalf of our grandchildren yet to be born. What do you believe are the geopolitical shifts that are going to be witnessed over the course of the next generation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very profound question and one that I wish I were smart enough to answer completely and convincingly. The geopolitical shifts are many and they intersect. They amplify one another and to some extent may even cancel out each other. But in no particular order and in no means exhaustively, let me just mention some of the things that we are looking at, because I deal every day with the urgent problems that must be responded to; with the immediate, which we know are important and we must get to by the end of the day; and with the long-term, which if we don’t tend to will become immediate and urgent. So it is a constant balancing act to try to look at what we need to do in order to create an environment that is more hospitable toward the values that New Zealand and the United States share.
We see shifting of power to a more multipolar world as opposed to the Cold War model of a bipolar world. We believe that the United States will remain for the far foreseeable future the largest economy, the largest military, the only country with a true global reach, but we work with and in fact are supportive of other countries that are rising. So we support China’s rise, we support India’s rise, we support Brazil’s rise. We want to see South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, and others that are important regional players take a more responsible, productive position in the world.
And sometimes people mistake our support for these countries and their ambitions as agreement. Indeed, we have many areas of agreement, but we have many areas of disagreement. But we think it is far better for the United States to be working to try to promote the right kind of success and the right acceptance of responsibility in these new emerging power centers and hope that we see the kind of maturity and acceptance of responsibility that goes with both economic success and political reach.
At the same time, we are very focused on the population shifts that are occurring in the world. Much of the growth of population in the world is in less developed countries. The population in some countries in Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America and Asia is 50 to 60 percent below the age of 25. And these young people are very often not getting good educations, they are not growing up in political systems that hold out the opportunity that they are seeking, they often can’t find enough food or enough jobs in order to make a living in anything resembling a formal economy, they are crowding into cities that are becoming mega-cities that are very, very difficult to govern, with all of the consequences that that suggests.
So our work to partner with a lot of these countries is to focus on the basic services like food, clean water, health, education, look to improve the rule of law and good governance so that perhaps we can see some changes in the way that countries respond to their own people, how they meet the needs of this great mass of young people. We are looking at the effects of climate change. There are still some who discount it. But whether you believe in climate change or you don’t, the fact is that there’s increasing drought and other changes in the atmosphere that are compounding the problems that we see in Africa.
There is just a lot that needs to be addressed to try to help countries govern themselves in a more effective fashion in order to create ladders of opportunity for these millions of young people who, shut out of opportunity, shut out of a chance to realize their own God-given potential, find other outlets, whether it be extremist groups or criminal networks, with consequences that are not confined in any one nation’s boundaries.
For example, in Latin America over many years the Government of Colombia has very successfully taken on the combined threat posed by the insurgency known as FARC and the drug traffickers. And it has been a very difficult but important effort. Now these drug traffickers have moved into Central America, moved into Mexico. In their effort to seek new markets, they are taking their illicit drugs across the Atlantic Ocean and corrupting governments and countries in West Africa that now serve as transit points for drugs to move north to Europe.
So there has to be more cooperation globally in order to address these kinds of very serious threats to law and order, to the maintenance of a stable government and economic setting.
So those are just some of the many issues that we track – pandemics, the problems that we see coming from countries that are not able to respond to their own people is first and foremost what we worry about because you can take some countries that are very rich at the top and increasingly poor with the 98 percent below, and it’s a stew for all kinds of conflict and problems that are going to spread. And we think we have to try to contain that.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. Thank you again for being with us. My name is Robert Patman. I’m a professor of international relations at the University of Otago. One question I’d like to ask you concerns the United States relationship with the United Nations. In the post Cold War era, many countries, including your own, I mean for a small country like New Zealand, of course the United Nations is a very important player and we accept, I think many of us here, that it’s certainly got problems. But what I’d like to ask you about, the Obama Administration seems to have taken a much more constructive approach to the United Nations. Could you say a little bit about how you foresee the United Nations improving itself so that it becomes more acceptable to mainstream opinion in the United States? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Another very good question. We believe that if the United Nations did not exist, we’d have to invent it, that there has to be an international forum of that sort to work on a full agenda that doesn’t always get into the headlines and people are not complaining about, but governing postal service rules or aviation security – there’s just an incredibly diverse group of issues that our governments work on together through the United Nations. So you’re right; when President Obama and I were looking at areas that we wanted to work more in, working with the United Nations was one.
Having said that, we would like to have the United Nations be more effective, more cost-effective, streamline its many organs and agencies and departments and divisions and all of the bureaucracy that it has. And we’re working on that. The prior Secretary General Kofi Annan had a group of distinguished world leaders look at these problems and came back with some very good suggestions. The current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also committed to a reform agenda.
But the United Nations cannot do anything that the member-states don’t want it to do. So what we’ve tried in the United States is to work more with our partners in the United Nations, first and foremost in the Security Council because that does drive so much of the agenda, where we are looking at reforming peacekeeping operations that is a key to how we can more proactively prevent conflicts and more quickly respond to them.
The United States under our watch rejoined the Human Rights Council, which was, as you may know, controversial in some quarters in our country. But I think because we joined, we’ve seen a much more productive set of issues rise to the forefront.
We are very committed to working with the United Nations on issues like sanctions against North Korea and Iran for their nuclear programs and very pleased that within the last 20 months there have been two very strong sets of sanctions adopted by the Security Council that really put the international community on record about the dangers posed by both North Korea and Iran’s nuclear weapons programs.
So we know that there is a minority within our country that is very suspicious of the United Nations and sometimes to the point of really putting wild ideas into the media that the United Nations is going to take over the world and black helicopters landing on lawns across America and the like. There’s a real resistance to the United Nations ever commanding any American troops, for example, under the blue helmets.
But we have pushed hard to develop a much stronger relationship. But the United Nations itself has to be more effective. And I was frankly disappointed at the climate conference in Copenhagen. I know again it’s the member-nations that determine the limits of UN action, but the UN has to be much more effective in pushing whatever the agenda is.
So we will work with the United Nations whenever we can. We will support the United Nations. We’re the single biggest donor to the United Nations. But we do want to see reforms and we think it’s important for the international community to push those reforms.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, I’ve had the signal that we only have one last question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
MODERATOR: You know there are at least 20 people who’ve put their hands up. Very quickly.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My question relates to the Wellington Declaration.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you pull your microphone up, please? Thank you
QUESTION: How can the Wellington Declaration signed by the U.S. government and the New Zealand government help support indigenous peoples in the Pacific to attain and maintain autonomy within their own countries and in particular (inaudible) New Zealand?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have discussed at some length between our two governments how the United States and New Zealand can work together to support change within the Pacific Island nations. There are many areas where New Zealand on its behalf or the United States on our behalf work on education or healthcare or other issues that are of importance. But we actually think if we work more closely together, we can have greater impact. And we don’t want to duplicate each other’s efforts, we want to amplify them.
From my perspective, the work that New Zealand has done in the Pacific Island nations is very highly regarded. The feeling is – and of course, no country maybe from the inside is viewing itself the way that you are viewed from the outside – but the feeling is that New Zealand comes to the table in talking to indigenous people throughout the Pacific with a lot of credibility, because of the involvement in every aspect of New Zealand life of Maori people.
And I can speak for my own country; we are by no means perfect, but we have over the course of our history opened wider and wider the doors of opportunity for minority groups of all kinds in the United States. And similarly, going back to the 1860s, New Zealand did the same. And again, I am not an expert on New Zealand history so I’m not going to offer an opinion. I will only say that from our perspective, New Zealand has an enormous amount of experience and credibility in working to help the people of the Pacific Island nations get more support, build up their institutions, create better mechanisms for dealing with the problems that they face. And we look forward to working much more closely with New Zealand to try to do that.
Thank you all very, very much for coming out on a rainy afternoon. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, I’m actually going to ask Sam Johnson (ph) to come forward. As a good university lecturer, I’m going to defer over to my student, former student, who actually is someone you spoke about. This is the young man who organized the Facebook group in reaction to the earthquake. So I’m going to ask Sam, actually, to say a quick thank you to you. And he didn’t know this until now. (Laughter.)
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I just thought I would come up here and really wish a sincere vote of thank you to you for coming not only to New Zealand but especially down to Christchurch today. It’s incredible to have someone such as yourself come and visit New Zealand, let alone down to Christchurch. I’m sorry our weather wasn’t (inaudible) Wellington – (laughter) – but it really is fantastic to have you here, and thank you for your very kind words to the people of Christchurch who have been very badly affected by the earthquake. And it’s a great lift of morale to have yourself here, so thank you so much and have safe travels. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. (Applause.)