New Zealand foreign minister wants credit from U.S.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters on Tuesday called on the United States to give New Zealand more credit for its contribution to security and stability in the Pacific region. If the United States was more aware of New Zealand 's important work in helping small, vulnerable Pacific states, it might look more favorably on New Zealand , he said in a speech to the Institute of International Affairs .

"There are aspects about New Zealand 's importance in the world that the United States may not fully understand and I intend to make sure they do," he later told reporters. Peters has made improving relations with the United States , never fully repaired after the falling out over the small nation's 20-year anti-nuclear stance, a key goal of his time in the post.

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who appointed the maverick lawmaker to the post of foreign minister to gain the support of his nationalist New Zealand First Party, backed his comments. "I think often the work New Zealand does to support security and stability in the Pacific is undervalued," she said, adding she did not think the United States would regard the comments as criticism.

Peters called on Britain to pull its weight in the region, where many states were once under its colonial rule. "You once had dominion over these people. You can't exit it and leave for somebody else to pay for and help build," he said.

Some critics said the appointment of Peters, who serves outside Clark 's Cabinet, was unwise given his past record of verbal attacks on refugees, migrants, immigration policy and opposition to free trade deals. Tuesday's speech did not mention any of those issues.

U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand William McCormick later said in a statement the United States deeply appreciated the critical security and stability work New Zealand did in the Pacific. British High Commissioner to New Zealand Richard Fell said Britain remained engaged in the Pacific through its contribution to the large European Union aid program in the region. "We have noted Mr. Peters' comments and we certainly recognize the very important role which New Zealand plays in the Pacific," he said in a statement, reports the AP.


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