WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — A U.S. warship will visit New Zealand next month for the first time since the 1980s, ending a 30-year-old military stalemate between the countries that was triggered when New Zealand banned nuclear warships.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key announced Tuesday that he had given clearance for the destroyer USS Sampson to visit during celebrations marking the Royal New Zealand Navy’s 75th anniversary.
The visit marks a continued thaw in military relations between the countries that turned frosty when New Zealand enacted its nuclear-free policy in the mid-1980s.
The policy prevents ships that have nuclear weapons or are nuclear powered from visiting. Because the U.S. won’t officially confirm or deny if its ships have nuclear capabilities, New Zealand has imposed a blanket ban on U.S. ships.