Call it a pivot. Call it a rebalancing. Call it what you will. Whatever the label, it is clear that America’s commitment to Asia-Pacific is continuing to deepen. New Zealand has joined Australia in welcoming a closer relationship with the United States.New Zealand’s defense minister was in Washington yesterday affixing his signature to an agreement with his American counterpart. According to the BBC, the accord promises to enhance security cooperation between the two countries:
The US-New Zealand deal, entitled the Washington Declaration, promises regular strategic dialogue and information sharing, and emphasises “building maritime security presence and capabilities”.The deal follows the Wellington Declaration, signed in November 2010, that committed the two countries to regular foreign ministry, trade and military talks.
New Zealand has traditionally been more wary of the United States than has Australia. In the 1980s, for instance, its government refused to allow nuclear-armed ships to dock in its ports. Since the United States declined to say which of its ships were nuclear-armed, New Zealand banned them all.This agreement, along with the 2010 declaration, does much to strengthen the relationship. The U.S. continues to win friends and influence people as it steps up its involvement in the region and assuages concerns brought about by a more assertive Chinese presence.