Clinton visit postponed

Hillary Clinton's saying taiho, delaying her trip to the Pacific

It's a sign of the importance of the western hemisphere to America, and makes the point that Hillary Clinton's visit to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia, whilst important, was not urgent... Yes, the horror of the Haiti earthquake has compelled Clinton to postpone her trip to the Pacific.

This has just been released by Foreign Minister Murray McCully's office:

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has postponed her visit to New Zealand in the wake of the massive earthquake in Haiti, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

“Secretary Clinton rang me this morning to convey the news. She promised to reschedule the visit as soon as possible,” Mr McCully said.

“Mrs Clinton told me that given the unimaginable scale of tragedy, and the fact that there are no operating institutions left in Haiti, the importance of US leadership in the relief efforts required her to return home immediately.

“The decision to postpone the visit is entirely understandable, given the massive damage and loss of life in Haiti, and the fact that there are a very large number of Americans based there.

“I told Secretary Clinton that New Zealand had specialist skills in a number of emergency relief and recovery areas, and we would be happy to supplement US efforts in any way required. She thanked me for the offer and said she would come back to me with any requests,” Mr McCully said.

I was working on a piece on New Zealand's global relevance and, amongst other things, what Clinton's visit says about that. I'll re-jig it and post tomorrow, but in short it shows that while the US is keen to re-build relations with allies after the hubris and unilateralism of the Bush years, it's backyard will always be more important.