29 Oct 2013

US looks to deepen defence relationship with NZ

3:18 pm on 29 October 2013

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says progress has been made in expanding defence co-operation with New Zealand.

Mr Hagel spoke after meeting New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman in in Washington on Monday.

Jonathan Coleman (right) and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Jonathan Coleman (right) and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Photo: US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

The Washington Declaration, signed in June last year, committed the United States and New Zealand to regular high level dialogue and enhanced cooperation in the Asia Pacific region.

Mr Hagel said he looks forward to continuing to deepen that defence relationship and that includes New Zealand being able to participate fully in next year's Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercise.

"Today I authorised a New Zealand navy ship to dock at Pearl Harbour for RIMPAC 2014 and extended that invitation to Minister Coleman. This will be the first time a New Zealand navy ship will have visited Pearl Harbour for more than 30 years."

The United States had announced an end to the ban on New Zealand vessels visiting American ports last September.

Mr Hagel said the two countries will work more closely on peacekeeping issues, with New Zealand to provide military instructors to an American-led peacekeeper training initiative from next year.

Dr Coleman said New Zealand was keen to build peacekeeping capacity in the region.

"There might be another country in the Asia-Pacific region which is looking to contribute to a UN mission and we may cooperate with the US to send trainers there to prepare that third country's forces for deployment."

He said New Zealand's relationship with the United States is in great shape and there is the potential for a visit to Washington to be made in the first half of next year by Prime Minister John Key.