5 Aug 2019

US Defense Secretary in NZ to 'demonstrate the priority we place on our friends'

5:55 pm on 5 August 2019

The United States Secretary of Defense has arrived in Auckland to meet his New Zealand counterpart.

New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark receives US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (R) at Auckland International airport on August 5, 2019. - Esper is in New Zealand for two days to hold bilateral meetings.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Defence Minister Ron Mark hongi upon Mr Esper's arrival in New Zealand. Photo: AFP

Mark Esper was sworn in as the United States' 27th Defense Secretary on 23 July.

The US had an enduring commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, which Mr Esper described as a priority theatre.

He told Defence Minister Ron Mark he was confident the allies could meet the needs of a complex international security environment with the same spirit of unity as the past.

"Minister, I have come to personally demonstrate the priority we place on our friends here, and especially New Zealand. Since the Washington Declaration in 2012, our militaries have made significant strides in defense cooperation.

"And we greatly value New Zealand's contributions to a free and open Indo-Pacific, from freedom of navigation exercises to your "Pacific Reset" initiatives.

"New Zealand and the United States share a vision of the future based on values of sovereignty, peaceful resolution of conflict, international rule of law, and freedom of navigation. We are committed to this future in our words and our actions.

"New Zealand and the United States share a language and a heritage. We share an ocean. And we share the responsibility to protect our peoples and our values."

The main business of the visit is bilateral defence ministers' meeting today and tomorrow.

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