New Zealand and the United States have agreed to their military relations after nearly 30 years as the U.S. is increasing its presence in the Asia-Pacific region to counter the growth of China.
New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman and US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel said in a joint statement that the extended military cooperation will benefit both countries. Defence forces of both nations can work together in peacekeeping initiatives, humanitarian missions and disaster relief operations in the Asia-Pacific as well as engage in joint military exercises.
The NZ-US military cooperation will also allow a New Zealand Defence Force navy ship to stay in Pearl Harbour once again. The last time a Kiwi navy ship docked in the US harbour was in the 1980s.
Mr Coleman said the defence relationship of New Zealand with the U.S. is in "great shape." It will allow both nations to work closely in the future. He presented Mr Hagel with an All Blacks jersey bearing the number 1 with the name "Hagel" at the back as memorabilia.
New Zealand is expected to send military instructors to the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative from 2014. The announcement came after a successful meeting of Pacific Army Chiefs headed by the U.S. and New Zealand.
Mr Coleman said the New Zealand Defence Force is also looking forward to work with its international counterparts including Exercise Southern Katipo to be held in the country in November. It is the largest military exercise in New Zealand.
New Zealand is also expected to participate in an international anti-piracy mission to be held in the Gulf of Aden. The country will also attend the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise in the U.S. RIMPAC is the largest international naval exercise in the world.
The U.S. has lifted a 1986 ban on ships from New Zealand to dock in a U.S. military port in Sept. 2012. The U.S. ban came after New Zealand prevented nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear-armed ships from entering its waters.
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