Political analysts say Hilliary Clinton’s visit to the Pacific will likely boost Washington’s warm relations with the Australia and New Zealand, where President Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was greeted with enthusiasm.
Clinton’s stop in New Zealand on January 15-17 will feature a meeting with Prime Minister John Key, whose election at the head of a center-right government in 2008 ended nine years of rule by Labour Party governments.
Obama and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have also established a good working relationship, analysts say, with the two governments largely aligned on many key international issues, including climate change policies.
In Australia, Clinton and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates will participate in regular ministerial consultations with their Australian counterparts on a Jan 17-19 visit that will take her to the capital Canberra and Melbourne, the State Department said.
The visit will be Clinton’s first to the region since becoming the top US diplomat last year, and comes as all three countries grapple with the rising political and economic influence of China on the world stage.
Clinton is also expected to discuss the Obama administration’s plans to dramatically step up the war against Taliban militants in Afghanistan, where both Australia and New Zealand have forces.
US officials have urged allies to contribute more to a planned “surge” that will see 30,000 more US troops sent to the region in an effort to shore up the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Australia has about 1,500 troops in the country but has not indicated that it plans to send any more. New Zealand has a 140-member provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan province west of Kabul, and Key has also committed to deploy about 70 members of New Zealand’s elite special forces.
WHAT TO EXPECT: CLINTON’S VIEWS UNPACKED
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to “do better” during her first visit to Afghanistan as Secretary of State in November 2009.
“We’re going to be doing what we can to create an atmosphere in which the blood and treasure that the United States has committed to Afghanistan can be justified and can produce the kind of results that we’re looking for,” Clinton said in an interview with ABC News from Singapore.
The United States expected there to be a major crimes tribunal and an anti-corruption commission established by Afghanistan’s government, Clinton said.
“There does have to be actions by the government of Afghanistan against those who have taken advantage of the money that has poured into Afghanistan in the last eight years so that we can better track it and we can have actions taken that demonstrate there’s no impunity for those who are corrupt,” she said.
– 18 November 2009
The Obama administration is making a renewed push for Mideast peace, stepping up pressure on Israelis and Palestinians to resume talks focusing on borders of a future Palestinian state and the status of Jerusalem.
“Resolving borders resolves settlements. Resolving Jerusalem resolves settlements,” Clinton told reporters after talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh. “We need to lift our sights and instead of … looking down at the trees, we need to look at the forest.”
– January 2010
The Australian Greens party are calling on the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to seek American support to stop Japanese whaling when he meets Hillary Clinton next week.
In 1982 the International Whaling Committee progressively transformed into a ‘club of anti-whalers’, largely at the behest of the United States which, arguably,
used the whaling issue to construct an image of herself as the ‘green hegemon’ of international environmental politics.
Clinton has not commented on the recent collision involving the NZ registered Sea Shepherd vessel the Ady Gil and a Japanese whaling research vessel in the Southern Ocean on January 6 2010.
Clinton, who flew to the Copenhagen climate change conference on December 17 pledged US participation in a multinational fund to provide poor nations with a US$100 billion a year by 2020. This was following China’s representatives balking at a deal requiring them to provide transparency on emissions, “All major countries [must] stand behind full transparency,” added Clinton, who called China’s no-transparency position a “deal-breaker.”
– December 17 2009
“I congratulate him on the victory he has won and the extraordinary race he has run. I endorse him, and throw my full support behind him. And I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me…So today, I am standing with Senator Obama to say: Yes we can…We will make history together as we write the next chapter in America’s story.”
– June 7, 2008