Biden emphasises US-NZ ties, peace activists concerned
United States Vice President Joe Biden says he's visiting New Zealand as part of a drive to reclaim US influence in the Pacific region.
He flew into Auckland last night, and later at a function said New Zealand's prosperity in the Pacific is important for the US.
"As Pacific nations, you and I - our countries - we have a vested interest in continued growth, stability and economic prosperity throughout this entire region. I think we are better equipped to do that when we stand side-by-side to advance our mutual interests."
Mr Biden says he and President Barack Obama made a "basic determination" when they took office that the Pacific is where much of the history of the 21st century will be written.
"This was the animating principle behind our decision to engage in what would be referred to as rebalancing our interests and our allocation of resources in the world," said Mr Biden.
"We mean what we say when we say we're rebalancing to the Pacific. It is overwhelmingly in our interest that New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Korea and everywhere in between, that the countries prosper. We make up 40 percent of the world's GDP. This is where the action is going to be."
Mr Biden says he will be honouring the New Zealand and US soldiers with a wreath-laying on Thursday, a symbolic gesture of closer military ties that has peace activists worried.
"We're really concerned that the resumption of these military ties really means New Zealand going to war alongside the United States in other future wars - and potentially other future illegal wars," says Auckland Peace Action group spokesperson Valerie Morse.
"War games are going to be held right before the planned visit of this US warship. So it almost goes without saying, that the United States will be coming and will be bringing a warship."
The group believes the ship will join Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th anniversary celebrations in November.
Mr Biden flies out this afternoon after a meeting with Prime Minister John Key.