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The governments of New Zealand and China have signed an agreement for defence cooperation to strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

The agreement was signed between New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark and his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during a visit to Beijing, China.

Prior to signing the agreement, Mark and Fenghe held talks to review the state of the defence relationship.

The arrangement will cover issues such as climate change, international peace cooperation, humanitarian and disaster relief activities.

Mark said: “China and New Zealand cooperate across a range of areas. This arrangement provides a strong framework under which we can continue this cooperation.

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“It recognises our ongoing intention to maintain dialogue across a range of levels in the defence relationship, to build our understanding of each other and promote positive links between our people.”

Mark noted that New Zealand recognises the need to enhance defence cooperation with China.

He added: “We already share commitments to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most notably in South Sudan. Our militaries are also conducting joint planning activities to ensure we work together effectively on disaster relief.”

The country also intends to make use of its strong relationship with China to tackle growing climate change in the region and globally.

China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman General Xu Qiliang said that the two militaries will look to explore new areas of the partnership to enable deeper cooperation.

Fenghe said: “The two countries must work on the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, deepen strategic mutual trust, extend practical cooperation, and forge even closer defence relations, in an effort to make great contribution to the China-New Zealand comprehensive strategic partnership.”