By Ernie Bower, Senior Adviser & Director CSIS Southeast Asia Program
Well done! Hillary Clinton and her New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully proclaimed the Wellington Declaration today in the Kiwi capital. Mustering courage reminiscent of King Charles I when he delivered the original Wellington Declaration in 1642 manifesting civil war in England, the two foreign secretaries set the course for a new era of strategic engagement between their countries.
The Wellington Declaration essentially moves the two nations back to a strategic level of engagement based on indisputably common values and common interests. It mandates regular consultations at the foreign minister level and points to a number of logical areas for increasing cooperation.
This is plainly a smart move on behalf of both countries. They want and need to be aligned as new trade and security architecture is erected in the Asia Pacific and this step removes any barriers to serious and strategic cooperation.
Anachronistic naysayers are likely to take a pot shot or two as the governments move beyond past conflicts over nuclear powered ships, but it is time for this step.
CSIS is currently conducting a study called Pacific Partners: The Future of US New Zealand Relations to be published at the US New Zealand Partnership Forum in Christchurch in February 2011. For more information contact Mary Beth Jordan.