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U.S. troops to take part in New Zealand drill

04-10-2012 15:17 BJT

WELLINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Almost 80 U.S. troops are to join New Zealand forces in a military exercise to be held in New Zealand's central North Island later this month, the New Zealand government announced Tuesday.

Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said 35 U.S. Marines and 41 U.S. Army personnel would participate alongside New Zealand forces in Exercise Alam Halfa.

The U.S. personnel would join members of the New Zealand Army's 1st Brigade, said Coleman in a statement.

"This cooperation builds on a pattern of exercises involving New Zealand and U.S. personnel since the signing of the Wellington Declaration in November 2010," said Coleman.

Exercise Alam Halfa would begin in Linton, a New Zealand Army base near the city of Palmerston North, and in the east coast city of Napier on April 26 and finish on May 6.

The statement gave no other details of the drill.

The Wellington Declaration, signed in November 2010 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully, outlines a "strategic partnership" between the two countries and marked an improvement in relations, which deteriorated in the 1980s when the New Zealand government banned visits by nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed ships.

The declaration is based on cooperation in the Pacific region and greater dialogue between political and military leaders.

The military exercise is named after a decisive battle fought in the desert of North Africa during World War II, when Allied forces, including the 2nd New Zealand Division, fought off an advance by German and Italian troops in 1942.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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