TOP officials of the United States and New Zealand ought to reach accommodation in their meetings this week. New Zealand representatives are said to have a proposal to break the deadlock over whether US warships are able to call at New Zealand ports. One possible compromise would be for New Zealand to parallel the approach of Norway and Denmark, which forbid nuclear weapons from their territory in peacetime but refrain from asking whether individual US ships are carrying such weaponry.
It is important for the US and New Zealand to patch up their relations. Old allies, they ought to revive the tricornered ANZUS treaty with Australia. The alliance would be a framework for resisting aggression in the southwestern Pacific, should that eventuality arise. The US canceled this summer's annual meeting of ANZUS members in the wake of New Zealand's having barred a US warship.
As a matter of policy the US will not say which of its ships carry nuclear weapons; to do so would give the Soviet Union valuable military information.
The issue has broader ramifications than ANZUS. American officials are understandably concerned that unless accommodation is reached with New Zealand, the South Pacific nation's policy could be adopted by some nations in Europe in which the antinuclear movement is strong, with American warships effectively shut out of important European ports. Such a step could adversely affect the flexiblity of the US Navy.
Fortunately, time exists to prevent such difficulties. While Europe watches, the US and New Zealand now have the opportunity to mend their relationship. Failure to do so would have serious consequences for their security arrangements. But success would have a settling effect, not only for the southwestern Pacific but also among America's European allies.