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US-NZ military training ban to be reviewed

Published: 6:52PM Wednesday October 07, 2009 Source: ONE News

One of the last barriers put up by the anti-nuclear stand-off between New Zealand and the United States appears to be crumbling.
America's chief man in the Asia-Pacific region Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State, has told ONE News that the law banning military training with New Zealand is absurd and will be reviewed to ensure closer military ties.

The freeze on military training has remained for the last 25 years.

The United States' restrictions on military training with New Zealand were put in place as retaliation for New Zealand banning nuclear ships.

Campbell says it is absurd that the two countries can fight on battle fields together, but not train together

"We're in the midst of a major review right now. I'd like to see United States and New Zealand recognise the new parameters of the global environment that we're facing and see where we can work together while recognising there is still a legacy that will make certain issues difficult," says Campbell.

New Zealand has recently sent 71 SAS troops to Afghanistan to fight in the United States-led war in that country and it is that sort of practical engagement that is bringing change to the relationship.

"I think you will see in the coming months a desire for the United States and New Zealand to work more closely together in a variety of ways," says Campbell.

And he says that desire is not limited to defence issues.

"It covers the full range of our relationship."

Campbell says New Zealand's nuclear free policy has meant it cut itself off from America.  

"The truth is this isolation has not been good for New Zealand overall - it's been in many respects self imposed but over the last several years there are a number of areas that New Zealand has taken a number of very pragmatic and positive roles, a very active role and we think that that has to be recognised," says Campbell.

There is a presidential directive in place that bans military training between the two countries and that technically.

But there will be a far greater range and scope of exercises that the US and NZ militaries will now be able to undertake though there will still be a few high level exercises remaining off limits.

You can see Political Editor Guyon Espiner's full interview with Kurt Campbell on Q+A on Sunday morning at 9am on TV ONE.