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Security Pact with New Zealand: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed a pact enhancing security cooperation and strategic dialogue with New Zealand, announced the Pentagon. The Washington Declaration, inked on June 19 with New Zealand defense minister Jonathan Coleman during the latter's visit to Washington, D.C., "reflects a shared commitment to a stable and peaceful Asia-Pacific region," states the Pentagon's release that day. The two nations committed to increasing maritime security cooperation to combat piracy, terrorism, and illicit trafficking; and to strengthening joint humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts, according to the declaration text. "New Zealand’s relationship with the US has advanced significantly in the last three years," stated Coleman in a New Zealand defense release June 19. The declaration highlights the "significant security cooperation that exists . . . within the context of our independent foreign policy, and seeks to build upon that cooperation in the years ahead," added Coleman.