Panetta's visit sparks policy change talk
Sun, 16 Sep 2012 4:59p.m.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has left on a trip that includes the first visit to New Zealand by a US defence secretary since Caspar Weinberger visited in 1982, sparking speculation of closer military ties.
Mr Panetta boarded an Air Force E4-B on Joint Base Andrews on September 15 (US time) to begin an eight-day trip to meet counterparts in Japan, China and New Zealand, the US Department of Defence said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Times reported that US officials said they hoped to resume visits by Navy warships to New Zealand for the first time since 1984.
US officials said they were exploring whether New Zealand might repeal its ban on nuclear-powered ships, which in the US fleet includes submarines and aircraft carriers.
But the Pentagon is also considering changing its policy against sending even non-nuclear Navy vessels to New Zealand.
A resolution of the long-standing dispute would permit more joint naval exercises and training in the South Pacific, the newspaper reported.
"We're in discussions right now, not to bring nuclear weapons to New Zealand but... to help them develop their amphibious capability, which they are very proud of because they consider themselves a southwest Pacific power," US officials said.
The department said Mr Panetta will build on progress made when he and New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman signed the Washington Declaration.
New Zealand was a steadfast and valued military partner both in Afghanistan, and in responding to natural disasters and providing security in the South Pacific, the department said.
US media reports focused on the time Mr Panetta will spend in Japan and China.
He is expected to reassure Chinese leaders that a US military buildup in the Pacific isn't aimed at them.
The trip comes after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attended the Pacific Island Forum in August.
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19/09/2012 10:58:41 p.m.
USA treats it citizens like slaves, if don't pay taxes you lose the right to vote. this country breaks its own constitution laws. Kiwis fight and died for USA causes and in return they block NewZealand Navy ships in Hawaii? seem like a waste of time.
17/09/2012 1:03:52 p.m.
restore anzus wrote:
I have absolutely no time for John Key or is henchmen/women, but NZ needs to rebuild its alliance with the US. Whatever the evils of the US, they are a far better bet than China or any other major power. NZ needs to stand side by side with Australia, US, Canada, and UK/Europe. That is where this country belongs, and those are the countries who will help us in times of crisis. The anti-nuclear thing is way out of date now and should be set aside. The world has moved on.
17/09/2012 9:57:26 a.m.
Nuclear free NZ will not change, no matter how many failing countries like the US try to force it onto us, Key seems to forget there are a whole lot of Kiwi's who don't trust the USA, especially given their terrible debt crisis and propensity for violent war.
17/09/2012 5:57:36 a.m.
This is very scary indeed. When did Mr Key get the mandate to revoke the no-nukes policy NZ has been so proud of. He is truly the worst PM the country has ever had, especially in his sycophancy to the US.
17/09/2012 5:49:26 a.m.
The anti-nuke was never about nuclear power and weapons. It was always political.Sure, the US had a neither confirm nor deny policy. But NZ was told that they would respect our anti-nuclear policy, just as cities around the world at the time had also adopted anti-nuclear policy, and where diplomacy was involved, the US respected those too.In NZ they sent an ancient ship that was not nuclear to visit, and Labour turned it away, claiming that it could be nuclear.Later the Labour govt had a russian ship visit that was probably nuclear powered. Then again that ship wasn't in NZ long, just picking up supplies for a stranded ship that the russian had come all the way from up near the artic, down to the antartic to rescue. A ship which even the Americains couldn't rescue. Icebreakers are energy hogs, and the russian ship came all the way south, broke through up to 5 mtrs of ice to free the ship, refueled the stranded ship, and returned to Russia without needing to refuel again? I doubt any other icebreaker in the world would manage that, as they would run out of fuel ...
16/09/2012 10:54:01 p.m.
Just wait till the roll out of Martial Law in the US before becoming friends with this evil bastard.
16/09/2012 5:10:34 p.m.
yes to the US wrote:
Would be great to welcome US ships again to NZ. We need to strengthen traditional alliances.
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