Minister of Defence Ron Mark will meet with his newly sworn-in U.S. counterpart, Mark Esper, who has arrived in New Zealand to 'personally demonstrate the priority [the U.S.] place on friends'.
Mr. Esper described the Indo-Pacific region as a “priority theatre” for the U.S., and has told Minister Mark that 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,” Secretary Esper told Minister Mark.
"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,” he added.
The U.S. Minister also lauded New Zealand’s “contributions to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, citing the Coalition Government’s “Pacific Reset” initiatives and freedom of navigation exercises as significant moves to ensure this.
Secretary Esper was sworn in as United States' 27th Defense Secretary on 23 July. He and Minister Mark will have bilateral meetings this week to discuss vital issues.