New Zealand Would Welcome US Ship Visit
SYDNEY — UNITED States relations with New Zealand are likely to improve following President Bush's decision to remove nuclear arms from US ships and submarines.Prime Minister Jim Bolger now says he would welcome a non-nuclear-powered US naval ship entering a New Zealand port. "If the US was of the mind to send one [ship], I'd be happy about it," Mr. Bolger said last week. Since 1985, New Zealand has banned all ships that use nuclear power or carry nuclear bombs from entering its waters. US policy has been to neither confirm nor deny that its ships have nuclear material on board. As a result of the ban, US-New Zealand relations were damaged and cooperation under the ANZUS alliance was frozen. Bolger believes the Parliament should also reconsider the ban on nuclear-powered ships. "It is a question of safety," says Bolger. A senior US defense department official said last week Bush's announcement had "big implications" for New Zealand. But the US would like to see the nuclear-power ban changed. In a recent study, Richard Baker of the East-West Center in Hawaii concluded that New Zealand was the real loser in the breakdown of the relationship since ANZUS provided a forum for regular high-level meetings.