US seeks to expand ties with New Zealand amid China worries

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By NICK PERRY
Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The commander of the United States military in the Pacific says he wants to expand and strengthen its ties with New Zealand. Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, is visiting Wellington as the U.S. is looking to increase its presence in the region amid deep concerns over China’s growing ambitions in the Pacific. They include most recently the Solomon Islands, where the U.S. and several Pacific nations expressed deep concern about a security pact the Solomons signed with China in April, which many fear could result in a military buildup in the region. Aquilino said he wanted to identify new areas where the U.S. could work with New Zealand. He said the leadership of Australia and New Zealand was “critically important.”

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