22 Jul 2011

Contingent of marines coming to NZ

6:45 pm on 22 July 2011

The US government has accepted an invitation to send a contingent of marines to New Zealand next year.

The ceremonial visit will mark 70 years since US troops arrived during World War II.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key issued the invitation to Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in Washington on Thursday and says it was immediately accepted.

Mr Key said there has been no discussion of joint exercises during the visit, and the Government is taking it one step at a time.

The Prime Minister also invited the United States to send a Coastguard vessel to New Zealand, but did not seek an immediate response.

Also on Thursday, he laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr Key says there was no request from the US for New Zealand to extend its military commitment - in Afghanistan or elsewhere.