Two high-level delegations of United States lawmakers have slipped quietly in and out of New Zealand for a series of meetings including a first-hand look at Christchurch's earthquake damage.
A group of Congressmen spent three days in the country, visiting Wellington and then Christchurch. They left on Tuesday.
Another group of seven senators was in the country at the weekend.
The visits were not advised to the media, but were confirmed after US Government planes were spotted on the tarmac at Wellington and Christchurch airports.
A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority spokesman said staff had accompanied the delegation, including seven US Congressmen, into the central-city red zone.
"The visit included discussions on the Christchurch earthquake and recovery efforts. Cera staff gave an overview of actions and activities in the CBD and included time at the Re:Start City Mall to highlight the recovery under way."
Mayor Bob Parker had lunch with the group. It is understood they also touched base at the Deep Freeze operation at Harewood.
At the weekend, senators, led by Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, visited Wellington. The group included senators Lamar Alexander, Kay Bailey-Hutchison, Daniel Coats, Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions and Mike Enzi.
Labour leader David Shearer said yesterday that he had not known of the politicians' visits.
A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Wellington confirmed the lawmakers' visit.
"The delegation met with government officials, the business community, and learnt first-hand about the state of the bilateral relationship between the United States and New Zealand."
The Government did not respond to requests for comment.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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