US Navy war­ship to visit NZ

End­ing 30-year stale­mate

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WELLINGTON: A US Navy war­ship will visit New Zealand next month for the first time since the 1980s, end­ing a 30-year-old mil­i­tary stale­mate be­tween the coun­tries that was trig­gered when New Zealand banned nu­clear war­ships. New Zealand Prime Min­is­ter John Key an­nounced yes­ter­day that he has given clear­ance for the destroyer USS Samp­son to visit dur­ing cel­e­bra­tions of the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th an­niver­sary.

The visit marks a continued thaw in mil­i­tary re­la­tions, which turned frosty when New Zealand en­acted its nu­clear-free pol­icy in the mid1980s. The pol­icy pre­vents ships that have nu­clear weapons or are nu­clear pow­ered from vis­it­ing. Be­cause the US won’t of­fi­cially con­firm or deny if its ships have nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties, New Zealand im­posed a blan­ket ban on US ships. But Key said he’d taken ad­vice from his own of­fi­cials and was “100 per­cent con­fi­dent” the USS Samp­son wasn’t nu­clear pow­ered or car­ry­ing nu­clear weapons.

“I think it’s a sign of the fact that the re­la­tion­ship be­tween New Zealand and the United States is truly in the best shape it’s been since the anti-nu­clear leg­is­la­tion was passed,” Key said. “All of those last ves­tiges of the dis­pute that we had have re­ally been put to one side.” Key said he didn’t think the result of the up­com­ing US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would af­fect the re­la­tion­ship. The dis­pute be­gan in 1985 when the New Zealand gov­ern­ment re­fused to al­low a US destroyer to visit. The US re­sponded by down­grad­ing its mil­i­tary ties. New Zealand passed its nu­clear-free law in 1987.

The re­la­tion­ship im­proved after 2001, said Rear Ad­mi­ral John Martin, the chief of the New Zealand Navy, when New Zealand agreed to send Spe­cial Forces and later a re­con­struc­tion team to Afghanistan. The US and New Zealand signed de­fense agree­ments in 2010 and 2012. “We’ve been work­ing with the US Navy for many decades and we’re look­ing for­ward to host­ing them down here,” Martin said. “A birth­day is not com­plete with­out your friends.” Mark Gil­bert, the US am­bas­sador in Wellington, said the visit helped clar­ify the im­prove­ment in the re­la­tion­ship. He said the US and New Zealand shared sim­i­lar val­ues and had much in com­mon, from cul­ture to tourism. “We’re all very ex­cited,” Gil­bert said. — AP

In this file photo, navy per­son­nel line the deck of the Ar­leigh Burke-class guided-mis­sile destroyer USS Samp­son dur­ing a com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony in Bos­ton. The US Navy war­ship will visit New Zealand next month for the first time since the 1980s, end­ing a 30-year-old mil­i­tary stale­mate be­tween the coun­tries that was trig­gered when New Zealand banned nu­clear war­ships. — AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.