Published: 11:14AM Sunday September 23, 2012 Source: ONE News
US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says the United States will go to great lengths to help New Zealand expand its capabilities and security to build a friendship between the nations.
Panetta spent two days in New Zealand this week for military co-operation talks between the two countries in what is the first visit from the Secretary of Defense since 1982.
During his visit, Panetta announced the US would lift its 27-year ban on Kiwi ships visiting US military ports – in place since the New Zealand Government banned nuclear warships from its waters in 1985.
In an exclusive interview with TV ONE’s Q+A programme, Panetta said he hoped the US could provide assistance and expertise so New Zealand could not only provide security for the region, but help the US provide security for the Asia-Pacific region.
“We have fought together and bled together.
“My approach to this is, as Secretary of Defense, [the US will do] whatever we can do to try and help New Zealand develop its capabilities and build a strong friendship.”
Panetta said he hoped that allowing New Zealand ships to enter into US ports would enable the two countries to engage with each other.
“Getting rid of some of the silly limitations that were in place is a real step in the right direction, and I can only see the relationship getting better from this point on.”
Panetta said the US faced issues in how to incorporate growing super powers such as India, Brazil and especially China into the “international family” as opposed to being outliers.
“The message I delivered to China is not to contain china, it’s to engage China in a broader role in terms of dealing with the Pacific.”