United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited New Zealand in late September. He was the first US Defense Secretary to visit in over 30 years.
The trip follows the signing of the Washington Declaration in June between Secretary Panetta and Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman. The declaration provides a framework for cooperation to focus, strengthen and expand the bilateral defence relationship.
While in New Zealand, Secretary Panetta laid 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.