21 Jan 2011

Britain moves to strengthen defence ties with NZ

3:37 pm on 21 January 2011

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Liam Fox arrived in Auckland on Thursday for two days of talks with the Government and the Defence Force staff.

Mr Hague said a consensus already exists on many topics on the agenda, but there is room for greater interaction.

He told Summer Report there are a range of strategic issues, for which many already have strong agreement from Britain and New Zealand.

Working more closely in areas including cyber security will also be discussed.

Meanwhile, ministers from New Zealand and Britain are to meet and talk formally once a year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says the talks could take place in New Zealand, London, or on the sidelines of international meetings and will be based on foreign and defence issues.

Mr Hague says it is the first time in about 30 years that a British Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary have visited New Zealand.

He says he is delighted at the opportunity to take part in annual talks and says the friendship between Britain and New Zealand remains stronger than ever.