The Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman has announced the United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, will visit New Zealand towards the end of next week.
It will be the first visit to New Zealand by a United States Secretary of Defense in 30 years.
“The New Zealand government is looking forward to hosting Secretary Panetta. His visit is a reflection of the excellent state of the relationship between our two countries,” said Dr Coleman.
The trip follows the signing of the Washington Declaration in June between Secretary Panetta and Dr Jonathan Coleman. At that time the Secretary was invited to visit New Zealand.
While here Secretary Panetta will hold bilateral talks with Dr Coleman and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully.
During his visit Secretary Panetta will lay a wreath at the Auckland World War II Hall of Memories to remember the sacrifices of the New Zealand Defence Force in that war and most recently in Afghanistan.