30 Apr 2017

US continues to delay key Asia-Pacific role

8:26 pm on 30 April 2017

The Trump administration has still not appointed the key official who deals with the Asia-Pacific region, including New Zealand, Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully says.

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Photo: Mei Heron

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not yet appointed his assistant secretaries, in part because he is looking at a shake-up of how the State Department operates.

Mr McCully told TVNZ's Q+A that until the Assistant Secretary is appointed, it would be difficult to assess what impact the new US government will have in this region.

"The people who run the relationship on a day to day basis with New Ze as well as in our area of course - Japan, China, the Philippines, all of the ASEAN stuff - the assistant secretary is not yet appointed.

"I don't think anyone can form too many conclusions without those personnel being there."

Mr McCully retires as Foreign Minister this week after 8 years in the post - the third longest term on record.

He said winning a place on the United Nations Security Council was the most important achievement of his time in the role.

"John Key said to me afterwards that it was like winning the world cup in diplomacy - getting three quarters of the countries in the world to vote for us - and I certainly put that right up there.

"It was a great privilege to have the opportunity to lead the campaign and then to serve on the council."

New Zealand spent two years on the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016.

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