SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be with Foreign Minister Mahuta and to have an opportunity here at NATO to talk about our strong and vital partnership in the Indo-Pacific and in fact around the world. I think New Zealand’s presence is further evidence of the fact that there’s a recognition among European partners, Indo-Pacific partners, that so many of the issues that we have to tackle are global in nature and are interconnected. I’m looking very much forward to the conversation we’re going to have in a short while with all of our allies and partners from (inaudible) to the Indo-Pacific.
So welcome, very good to have you. I should also say that the terrible extreme weather event that New Zealand recently experienced in February that took a dozen or so lives, I know affected many, many people, many communities. We were pleased to be able to be of some support, especially through the work of USAID, and we share our thoughts and condolences to those who were victimized by that event.
FOREIGN MINISTER MAHUTA: Thank you very much for the message of condolences and sympathy in relation to Cyclone Gabrielle. I think you and I both agree that there is a huge challenge in relation to climate change —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
FOREIGN MINISTER MAHUTA: — that we have to respond to and that is significant in terms of how the Pacific sees this challenge ahead of us.
New Zealand is really pleased to be here at this NATO meeting to continue to reinforce that we will remain committed to significant geostrategic challenges in this part of the world that have a consequence in our part of the world as well. And that’s why we look forward to the discussions that we’re having today.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, thanks everyone.