New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has shut the door on joining the AUKUS alliance, a military pact that’s basing nuclear submarines in Australia.
Mahuta has been hosting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who called into the Beehive ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup U.S-Netherlands game at Wellington Stadium.
Parliament’s brand new pou carvings were on display as Blinken arrived at Parliament.
Then inside for a hasty meet and greet with Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, and then on to a meeting with Mahuta.
“New Zealand views the U.S as one of our closest friends,” Mahuta said.
“New Zealand has been a tremendous friend,” said Blinken.
His predecessors over the last two decades have all said the same, it’s an enduring relationship and alliance. But there are challenges.
Asked if the U.S is comfortable with New Zealand’s relationship with China, Blinken said: “It’s vital given the intense competition we’re in, we have different visions and views, it’s vitally important that we communicate. That we make sure the competition doesn’t veer into conflict.”
That’s where AUKUS – the Australia-UK-U.S defence alliance – comes in. It’ll see nuclear subs based across the ditch, an apparent deterrent to China’s expanding military presence.
“The door is very much open for NZ and other partners to engage as they see appropriate,” said Blinken.
But that door was later slammed shut by Mahuta.
“I’ll be really clear, we’re not contemplating joining AUKUS,” she said.
Not only would AUKUS clash with our nuclear-free laws, but also the country’s nuclear-free Pacific policy. It’s a club we’d have to sell our soul to join.