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Decades-Old Nuclear Standoff Finally Ends ... With New Zealand

A little-known, but longtime nuclear standoff ended this week when U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted a 26-year-old ban that kept New Zealand naval ships from docking at U.S. bases.

As the L.A. Times reports, the ban stems from New Zealand's nuclear-free policy that forbid U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons or using nuclear power into the nation's ports.

The ban resurfaced earlier this year when ships from New Zealand were denied permission to dock at Pearl Harbor during a large international naval exercise.

The move by Panetta, the first U.S. defense secretary to visit New Zealand since 1982, is an attempt to ease the long-running dispute. New Zealand's ban, however, is likely to remain intact, the Times reports.

"The U.S. move is an overture to New Zealand at a time when the Pentagon is rebuilding military relations in the region, in part to counter China's growing clout in the South Pacific.

But there are few signs that New Zealand will reciprocate by easing its anti-nuclear law to allow a return of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships to its ports."

Panetta acknowledged the U.S. and New Zealand would continue to have differences of opinion in some limited areas, but that "we are embarking on a new course that will not let these differences stand in the way of greater engagement on security issues."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Chinese Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Restricted To 20-Day U.K. Visa

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The Politics Hour - July 31, 2015

Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies, and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

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Debris Found In The Indian Ocean May Be From Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

Investigators believe a piece of debris found on the French island of RĂ©union in the Indian Ocean could be from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March 2014.

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