AUKUS discussed as NZ, US forge deeper ties in Washington DC

The issue of New Zealand joining the AUKUS alliance came up during Winston Peters' meeting with the US Secretary of State overnight – but the Foreign Affairs Minister says things are still in the very early stages.  

Peters travelled to Washington DC for the meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the final meeting of a mammoth foreign diplomacy tour which included stops in Egypt, Belgium and New York.  

The pair discussed a range of issues including the Pacific, the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Palestine conflict.  

Heading into the meeting, Blinken said he appreciated the focus both the United States and New Zealand bring to working with "our friends in the Pacific Islands".  

"On these and so many other endeavours, our countries are closely joined because fundamentally we reflect and we seek to advance on the same basic values, and the same basic interest," Blinken said. 

"In a challenging time and a challenging world, for the United States, there's nothing better than strong partners like New Zealand".  

After the meeting, Peters described the talks as "very comprehensive". 

A Joint Declaration was also released.  

It talks about Peters' and Blinken's shared commitment to advancing a "shared vision". 

"We share the view that arrangements such as the Quad, AUKUS, and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity contribute to peace, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," the statement read. 

"[We] see powerful reasons for New Zealand engaging practically with [the arrangements], as and when all parties deem it appropriate." 

Peters said AUKUS discussions were an extension of chats started by the previous Government, and any conversation about signing up to the alliance is "premature".  

"What they've said is they would like to talk to us about Pillar 2 and what that might mean, and the 'what that might mean' is what we're discussing now and its framework, its content and all aspects of it is something for future discussion." 

AUKUS is a collective security agreement signed by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States in 2021.  

Pillar 1 of the alliance relates to nuclear-powered submarines; however, Pillar 2 relates to technology and intelligence.  

Back in Auckland, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon echoed Peters' comments.  

He told the media the pathway to having conversations about joining the AUKUS alliance has only just opened up.  

"We think AUKUS is good for the region in terms of a security point of view," Luxon said. 

"Our position is no different from the previous administration, we would like to explore opportunities and explore whether there's an opportunity to join AUKUS Pillar 2." 

Luxon said talks will continue over the coming months.  


To kickstart the re-kindled relationship, both the US and New Zealand have committed millions of dollars to "practical projects" in the Pacific.  

New Zealand will give $8.2 million to support digital connectivity in Tuvalu and a further $8.2 million to support the construction of an oceans and fisheries research vessel for the Pacific.  

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said it's an example of how working together can make "our money go further with greater speed".  

"[The projects] are critical things that are going to be of great value in the Pacific in the next five years, 15 years, perhaps the next 50 years," Peters said.  

"We want to show how we can do these things which are an enormous advantage to the Pacific – but at a reduced cost between all three of us in this case."

Additional reporting by Newshub US Correspondent Mitch McCann in Washington DC.