North Korea is likely to be on the agenda as Foreign Minister Murray McCully meets with senior US military officials in Hawaii this week.

McCully is scheduled to meet with US Pacific Command Harry B Harris in Honolulu, and he is expected to discuss security issues in the Korean Peninsula.

Tensions are high in the region. North Korea has been escalating its weapons programme and the Trump Administration has warned its patience with the country is running out.

During a visit to the Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea this week, US Vice President Mike Pence warned Pyongyang not to test America's resolve and military power.


Harris visited New Zealand last year aboard the USS Sampson, which attended the Royal New Zealand Navy 75th birthday celebrations, the first visit by a US ship in 33 years.

His Pacific Command has a fleet of 1100 aircraft and 200 ships, including five aircraft carriers.

One of those aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson, was deployed in the waters off the Korean Peninsula this week, in a move described by North Korea as an "aggressive war drill". The ship was shadowed by Chinese and Russian vessels.

"The US Pacific Command is responsible for US military operations in over half the world's surface," McCully said today.

"Honolulu is a pivotal channel for New Zealand's views on Asia-Pacific into Washington DC and my visit is an opportunity to emphasise the value of New Zealand-US co-operation in the Asia Pacific."

Last month, McCully condemned North Korea "in the strongest terms" after it carried out multiple missile tests.

"This decision is highly provocative and deeply detrimental to regional and global security," he said at the time.

North Korea has launched more than 20 missiles since last year, in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions which ban all such missile tests by the country.


McCully will also visit the New Zealand Consulate-General in Honolulu, which was opened in 2014.

"New Zealand's presence in Honolulu has deepened our connections with US military leaders and is a gateway for our engagement with North Pacific countries," he said.

McCully said he also planned to meet with Hawaii's political leaders, opinion makers, and academics. He said the areas of co-operation between New Zealand and the US in the Honolulu included climate change, fisheries, humanitarian aid and disaster risk management.

McCully is stepping down as Foreign Minister in May, and this will be his second-to-last overseas trip. He will visit Vietnam next week.

The minister announced in December he would quit politics at the election.