U.S.-New Zealand Space Framework Agreement and Disaster Management Memorandum of Cooperation Press Conference
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT.
WENDY R. SHERMAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
ECONOMIC AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER STUART NASH
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT MINISTER KIERAN MCANULTY
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND
AUGUST 9, 2022
MINISTER NASH: It is an absolute pleasure to be here with Deputy Secretary of State Sherman for the signing of this agreement and how we’re going to work together on the use of near space and outer space for peaceful purposes.
Coordination with the United States on space is an important and growing component of our relationship. We look forward to strengthening existing space collaborations between New Zealand and the U.S. as well as developing new collaborations as a result of this framework agreement.
The agreement recognizes the value of international cooperation and the peaceful uses of near space and outer space and highlights the desirability of enhanced cooperation between the parties in space science. The use of space for research and earth sciences, exploration, aeronautics and operational earth observations, meteorology, oceanography and environmental monitoring will continue to benefit all countries.
I’m pleased that the framework agreement will provide greater strategic focus to our outer space relationship across a number of key areas, including space science, earth observation, education and space sustainability.
The framework agreement will enable a deeper and more streamlined collaboration with NASA, across the New Zealand science research system, will make it easier for NASA to negotiate collaborative research projects with New Zealand resources. The agreement will also provide a simple pathway for NASA to conduct scientific activities in New Zealand [inaudible].
Once again, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here with you, Deputy Secretary, and I think this agreement is a big step forward for both of our countries.
Thank you very much.
MINISTER MCANULTY: G’day everyone, and thanks very much for being here today. I’d like to especially acknowledge Madam Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman and the United States mission staff. It’s really a pleasure to meet you.
I’m really pleased to announce the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between our respective National Emergency Management Agencies. Our government is committed to continually strengthening our emergency management system, and this Memorandum of Cooperation will help to foster disaster resilience and reduced disaster risk in both countries.
Over the past two decades, disasters have increased in number and severity requiring enhanced international cooperation and stronger international relationships, and this relationship is not a new one. Our emergency management agencies have had close relationships for many years, and we’ve supported each other during times of crisis. In 2018, we deployed fire personnel to help combat live wildfires in the U.S., and of course we will always be grateful for the support the United States provided following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Within 24 hours of the earthquake a USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team, including 70 specialized urban search and rescue personnel, had been deployed to join the search for survivors and victims, helped complete damage assessments, and provide humanitarian assistance, and I want to acknowledge that this has personally impacted me including [inaudible].
We have particularly strong working relationships around tsunami preparedness and response, and our countries share information and data with each other, including that from New Zealand’s network of [inaudible]. This assists in providing warnings to our communities and those in the Pacific.
This new Memorandum of Cooperation between New Zealand’s National Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency will help to strengthen disaster resilience and reduce disaster risk in both our countries.
New Zealand and the United States have a lot in common with regards to the [inaudible] we face. Our emergency management structures and the important role indigenous communities play in emergency response and recovery. This agreement will allow the sharing of best practices and lessons learned from past emergencies and boost opportunities to engage in joint research as well as conferences, workshops, and exercises.
I welcome this new agreement to reinforce emergency management cooperation between our two countries and contribute toward building a more disaster resilient global community.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: First, thank you Minister Nash; thank you, Minister McAnulty, and I have to say, I was in the Christchurch earthquake, and your Air Force evacuated a group of us out of Christchurch. It was an experience that, it’s one that one wants to have once in one’s lifetime, but I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful all of your colleagues were in helping us through that difficult time. Thank you.
Good afternoon to you all. I want to begin by saying how wonderful it is to be back in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Just now, I was very honored to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. We discussed the strong bilateral partnership between the United States and New Zealand on a wide range of issues, from our cooperation on maintaining a free, open, secure and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, to holding Putin accountable for his war of aggression against Ukraine. I want to thank the Prime Minister for her hospitality and warm welcome.
Later today, I look forward to meeting Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Chief Executive Chris Seed and diplomatic representatives from the Pacific Island countries. This is my final stop of a trip to Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand. Throughout my trip, I have focused on listening to the people of these Pacific countries on how we can partner on a wider range of shared priorities, from climate and health to security and economic cooperation. I’ll be taking all of your ideas back with me to Washington.
Just now, I have been very proud to represent the United States in the conclusion of two agreements that will further strengthen our longstanding cooperation. I’m so pleased to have Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty here to talk about our Memorandum of Cooperation on emergency management.
Our countries have deep expertise on emergency management and disaster response — both in our own communities and in assisting other nations. As I said, every moment during Christchurch, despite the tragedy unfolding all around, every Kiwi we asked for assistance was immediately helpful to our cohort of lost Americans. That experience gave me firsthand appreciation for how important it is to work together on emergency management. This Memorandum of Cooperation will help us to do this even better.
Second, the Minister of Economic Development Stuart Nash and I just signed, as you saw, a U.S.-New Zealand Space Framework Agreement. This agreement will strengthen cooperation between the New Zealand Space Agency, NASA, and other US agencies, and it will bring our nations closer together in our work to ensure outer space is developed for peaceful purposes.
Last year, New Zealand signed the Artemis Accords, which promote the peaceful exploration of deep space. We look forward to working together on the Artemis program so we can continue the next phase of space exploration — back to the moon, and beyond.
Again, I want to thank Prime Minister Ardern and all the government officials who I’m meeting with in Wellington today. And I look forward to all the ways the United States and New Zealand will continue to deepen and expand our incredible partnership in the years to come.
Thank you very much.
REPORTER: My question is for the Deputy Secretary. You said that your visit to Solomon Islands that U.S. President Joe Biden sees strong ties with Pacific Island countries as a priority. If so, do you agree that Kiribati’s withdrawal from the Pacific Island Forum is a top-order issue, and how are you convincing them to rejoin?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Thank you very much for the question.
Indeed, President Biden, Vice President Harris who spoke to the Pacific Islands Forum, Secretary Blinken who made a stop when things opened up in Fiji… and now my trip as well as the Senior Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell and Assistant Secretary Dan Krittenbrink and one of my colleagues, Katherine Paik was here as well, going to the Pacific Islands some months ago. We also have representation in the Pacific Islands, and as the Vice President announced we will be opening three embassies, one in Kiribati. So obviously we think it’s important for Kiribati to be part—and it is—of the Pacific Island family, and I think the PIF will hopefully help Kiribati find its way home.
REPORTER: Deputy Secretary, Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida has been raided by the FBI. What’s your reaction to that? And can you explain how significant this has been?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: I’ve just seen the news headlines. I would suggest you talk to our Department of Justice, which is responsible for the FBI and all of that is [imaudible] and ask them for a response.
REPORTER: You’ve spoken quite a lot about New Zealand’s strong relationship with the U.S. Is there a time or a place where we are no longer suspended from ANZUS?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: We have an incredible partnership with New Zealand, and what matters is what our actions are with each other. We respect New Zealand’s independent foreign policy, but we obviously are quite like minded, and New Zealand has been stalwart when it comes to saying to Vladimir Putin that he should not unjustly and horrifically invade a sovereign country and try to determine its borders and its political choices for its future.
Indeed we have worked together to deal with counterterrorism efforts. We have worked together in space, in emergency management. We have worked together to support the Pacific Islands and help them find a way forward that meets the ambitions of their own citizens and their own people. New Zealand has joined, as the United States has, in partnership in the Blue Pacific, a coordinated effort to really make resources available in the Pacific. I could go on and on. We are both launch partners for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
So we have an incredible bond and I’m just delighted to be here and to deepen those bonds in every way we can— in space, emergency management, and so many other ways.
REPORTER: Madam Deputy Secretary, you’re just coming from the Solomon Islands, and Prime Minister Sogavare did not attend the ceremony that you attended on Sunday. Do you consider that a snub? And also, do you feel like you’re losing the battle for influence there to China?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: As I said to Prime Minister Sogavare, I see this as a missed opportunity for the Prime Minister. The events all day on Sunday raised up the way that Australia, New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom worked with Solomon Islanders — both civilians, coast watchers — Solomon Islanders paid a big price for the Battle of Guadalcanal along with all of our soldiers. And I told him I was sorry for him because I thought he missed an opportunity to raise up that strong partnership and the fight for freedom that allows the Solomon Islands to exist as it is today.
So it’s really sorrow for him that he chose, or was compelled to, or his schedule didn’t permit him to attend. I think it was a missed opportunity for him.
REPORTER: And the influence with China, are you winning that battle?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: It’s not so much a battle. I think that countries try to have relations with every country they believe can help them move forward. The United States does not ask any country to choose between us and China or any other country and China.
But we do ask that we all have a level playing field. The rules-based order that was put in place after that tumultuous World War II that cost so much in lives and treasure for countries all over the world, that we remember that war is no solution. That there not be escalation. That we all manage our differences in peace and diplomacy and try to find our way forward. But we do so using that rules-based international order because in fact it was that very order that has helped China to rise, and it ought to be there for everyone.
REPORTER: Madam Deputy Secretary, did you specifically discuss China’s influence in the Pacific with Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern? And do you feel like America has in recent times dropped the ball when it comes to engagement in the Pacific?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: I think that it has always been important for the United States to engage in the Pacific. When President Biden campaigned and when he became President he said it was a priority to rebuild our alliances, our partnerships, our relations with regional organizations around the world. He instructed all of us to do that, and that is what we have been engaged in. The Vice President, Secretary Blinken, every member of our cabinet.
We are a Pacific nation. We always have been. So we believe, as I said to the students who I love to meet with everywhere I go because they’re the future, not me. They are. The future will be written in the Pacific. President Biden believes that, Secretary Blinken believes that, Vice President Harris. So we are doubling down on our investment here in the Pacific—our relationships, our partnerships, regional organizations, the Pacific Island Forum, in other parts of Asia, the Quad, ASEAN, APEC. We are using every vehicle possible to collaborate with partners in the Indo-Pacific. So every way we possibly can— IPEF, APEC, to move that agenda forward so that everybody can prosper in peace and stability.
REPORTER: Did you specifically discuss —
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Of course we discussed the Pacific —
REPORTER: And specifically China’s growing —
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Of course we discussed China and we discussed all the Pacific Islands that I went to, we discussed Ukraine and Russia. New Zealand may be in this part of the world, but they are an influence all over the world, looking after the interests of the people of New Zealand.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Deputy Secretary. Thank you very much.