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US Commander: US/New Zealand relationship best in thirty years. NZ well qualified for UN Security Council seat

The Commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the relationship between the United States and New Zealand is the best it’s been in thirty years.

‘It's the best it's been in 30 years. We've had a number of high level visitors come here and try to reiterate the importance of the relationship that we have and me coming here is just another indication of the importance that we place on this partnership.’

But Admiral Locklear says we are not allies, ‘no, allies require us to have treaties. We don’t have a treaty but we are partners.’

Admiral Locklear said we need look forward.

‘I think in general, we need to look ahead and not in the past.  We need to look at the future security environment that all the globe faces’ 

When asked whether New Zealand would be well qualified to take up a UN Security Council seat, Admiral Locklear said, ‘of course’.

‘It's important to not only to have the perspective of the large nations, but of the smaller nations that often have a unique perspective of a part of the globe.  One of the things I value very much, even in our relationship, security relationship, with the Armed Forces of New Zealand, is that you all have a very unique view, a very valuable view of the South Pacific, and of this region, the Antarctic region.

‘If you extrapolate that view into the issues that the UN Security Council are dealing with, I couldn’t see why New Zealand wouldn’t be a great addition to that.’

Admiral Locklear says climate change is the biggest long-term threat to the Asia Pacific region.

‘The increasing frequency of storms, the increasing likelihood that large tsunamis would impact as we’ve seen in Aceh and we’ve seen in Japan that it will impact large population areas which will put many many people at risk and disrupt the security environment. You add to that the fact that in my area of responsibility 70 per cent of all major disasters occur here.’

He also says there will be a fight for global resources.

‘I don’t see a way out of that. The global community is going to have to figure out how to deal with regions that are becoming now arid and deserts that haven’t historically been and the fact that water supplies are becoming challenged.’

When questioned about the rising influence of China in the Asia Pacific region, Admiral Locklear said, ‘the question for the world with China will be – what leadership role they take, other than in the economic realm.

‘What is their role in the security environment? How are they leading their neighbours to good solutions and a good security environment and I think if they make good choices on that and they become leaders and they demonstrate to their neighbours the ability to be trusted and to be transparent then -as they will say to me - there’s plenty of room for everyone to operate here in the Pacific.’

Asked whether China can be trusted now, Admiral Locklear said, ‘I think trust is a word I wouldn’t apply too broadly.’

‘I would say that as far as our bilateral relationship, that we are based on the dialogue between our President and President Xi that we are in the process of developing an improved bilateral relationship, then that trust underlies that.’

‘Trust requires that we talk, that we work together, that we understand each other, that there’s a level of transparency and we’re not there yet but we’re working on it.’

Comments and questions

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so, NZ's doing all right in the Pacific ...

The only reason the US wants NZ on the Security Council is because NZ will do whatever is says unfortunately.

Normally I would listen to a Commander of any navy especially one such as the US with quiet admiration and respect, however on reading this interview and this gentlemans views on climate change, I now see he is like so many, holding a politicised rather than practical role. We need not look far to see how for example the politicians can ruin a proud force like the NZ police, once politicians in uniforms dominate the hierarchy. Bit sad actually.

How does this good relationship with the US relate with the US Chamber Of Commerce threats to our dairy and wine exports because of our anti smoking legislation?

Because one is a relationship with the United States Government, and the other represents the views of a lobby group independently set up by American bushinesses to advance their interests. They no more represent the US government than Fletcher Challenge, Telecom, the business round table or your local diary represents the government of New Zealand. Keep up.

I don't think its acceptable that powerful US lobby groups can threaten NZ and get away with it. It makes me wonder whether international rules and norms are just designed for everyone excluding the US.
If any other Country besides the US had made those sorts of public threats to NZ the newspapers would have been full of indignation. The US gets away with it because they have the power.

The USA Chamber was founded in 1912, and is regarded as the largest trade organisation in the world. Its membership has grown to include 3000 Chambers in the USA and 83 American Chambers of Commerce offices abroad (AmChams); ...The American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand was founded as The American Trade Association of New Zealand in 1965 and was accepted as an organisation member of the United States Chamber of Commerce on January 30th 1970.

- could be a two-way street - perhaps it could be a useful avenue to join with like-minded countries and convey the NZ position to HQ in Washington ...

New Zealand should certainly be considered a close ally of the United States and there is trust and respect and appreciation and shared commitment from the past to remember.

It would be very good to acknowledge that at every level and to actively seek ways to correct and fix anything that has ever caused anyone to ever consider for one moment that it is not as solid and sound as ideal. Alliance need be asserted and stated in an upfront manner to tie in with how the relationship is in need and in actions expressed.

It is important to remember the very close ties and appreciation and need for a continued and enhanced relationship that seeks to further every bond.

The issue of ship visits ought to be revised and a fuller partnership explored and engaged with and a debate entered in on that leads to full reciprocation and protection, and an understanding of the importance of trade. The need to secure good terms and conditions that add to and further enhance security and close co-operation will be on-going and are areas that need to be viewed as significant for what is an important relationship.