Aus welcomes US-NZ defence accord
Wed, 20 Jun 2012 4:44p.m.
Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith has welcomed the latest step in the three-year thawing of United States and New Zealand defence relations.
Mr Smith said the Washington Declaration signed by US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman in Washington on Wednesday formalised the growing security co-operation between the two countries.
That relationship froze in the mid-1980s with New Zealand's nuclear-free declaration, which barred any visits by US warships and hence any defence co-operation.
Mr Smith said the new agreement reaffirmed the US-New Zealand strategic partnership, established a framework for bilateral strategic dialogue and strengthened practical defence co-operation in areas such as maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and peacekeeping.
He said Australia had long been a close security ally of both the US and New Zealand.
"Australia, New Zealand and the Unites States have a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region and will continue to work together closely on regional and global issues," he said in a statement.
In January, Mr Smith and Mr Coleman announced a new defence relationship framework, which builds on the Anzac tradition of longstanding and comprehensive defence engagement.
That introduces regular strategic discussions between senior civilian and military personnel, closer co-operation on capability development and procurement, and more cost-efficient co-operation, including through the development of complementary military capabilities and sharing experiences of defence reform.
Mr Smith said the Australia-US alliance was the indispensable, enduring feature of Australia's strategic and security arrangements.
"Australia expects that this deepening practical co-operation with the United States will also reinforce existing relationships and provide opportunities to enhance cooperation with our security partners in the region," he said.
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