New Zealand will play host to America's top defence official for the first time in 30 years next week.
US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta is travelling downunder as part of a tour to China and Japan.
The visit was a reflection of the excellent state of the relationship between the United States and New Zealand, Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman said.
Panetta would hold talks with Coleman and Foreign Affairs minister Murray McCully while here.
The visit will be Panetta's third trip to Asia in 11 months, signalling the Pentagon's ongoing shift to putting more military focus on the Pacific region.
- Stuff and AP
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