Marshall Islands politician critical of John Key's comments
A Marshall Islands cabinet minister is unhappy with comments made by the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, about its nuclear issues.
A Marshall Islands cabinet minister says comments made by the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, about its nuclear issues came across as insensitive and off-handed.
The minister in assistance to the President of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, also says John Key did not seem connected in an impressive manner to the events of this months Pacific Islands Forum.
He says they respect the New Zealand government, but some of Mr Key's comments, including the ones relating the Majuro Declaration, seem to show a disconnect from the process of the forum. Leilani Momoisea spoke to him.
TONY DE BRUM: I'm not sure if New Zealand really meant to say what they were saying. They seem not connected to the process. We have respect for New Zealand and its government, as you know, but the comments of the prime minister to the effect that, for example, the United States is not going to sign on, after hearing the Secretary of the Interior announce his satisfaction with the declaration seemed odd, to say the least. The United States has pledged to sign on, as we have said, and that should also give New Zealand incentive to do so.
LEILANI MOMOISEA: And also you felt New Zealand was disconnected from the process in terms of Mr Key making the comment about your nuclear issues with the United States, calling that a bilateral matter.
TDB: Yes. We have included in the forum communique a statement regarding the nuclear issues, similar to ones in the past, except strengthened by the fact that the language, we welcomed the report of the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on the subject, which is probably the most comprehensive international report on the nuclear issue ever published. And the prime minister was a signatory to the declaration, and it just seemed to me strange that he would say this is a bilateral matter. Of course it's a bilateral matter, but it's also a multilateral matter, that we've engaged support from the Pacific region and from the rest of the world to pursue.
LM: Because in your view, in signing that, you would think that that's New Zealand saying they would support you in that particular matter?
TDB: Absolutely. In signing on, it was our view that New Zealand was supporting our view that New Zealand was supporting that declaration and the position of the Marshalls as the United States should live up to its commitments. Not just that, but New Zealand would be deemed to be supporting a letter to be subsequently sent to the United States pursuant to that declaration, again reminding them of their obligation, as has been done every year by every chairman of the [Indistinct] since the subject was added on to the communique.
LM: Would you consider that an insensitive comment, considering the sensitivity of this issue to the Marshallese people?
TDB: I would say so, yes. It was insensitive. It was not good form. Basically, it's not a mystery to the Pacific what happened here during the testing period. We consider it an open wound that needs to be healed, and we're seeking ways to make sure that happens. And a comment like that seems to me to be a little bit offhand. It was like, 'We don't really think that we should be involved in this at all. This is something that the Marshalls should pursue alone with the United States'.
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