WELLINGTON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- United States Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will visit New Zealand next week to discuss defense cooperation between the two countries, New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman announced Friday.
"Our defense relationship with the U.S. is in good shape. Following the signing of the Washington Declaration in 2012, we have steadily increased the level of joint activities and enhanced cooperation in the region," Coleman said in a statement.
The two navies continued to work together in areas of common interest, such as counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
"Looking ahead, the New Zealand Defense Force will be participating in Exercise RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) which is held in Hawaii later this year, and Exercise Pacific Partnership, the annual humanitarian assistance mission in the Asia-Pacific region," he said.
Mabus would hold talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and senior defense officials during his visit next Monday.
Military contacts between the two countries have begun thawing in recent years after New Zealand's stance against visits by nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed vessels in the 1980s caused a long rift.