US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson heading to New Zealand

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson (Reuters)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit New Zealand next week.

"We welcome Secretary Tillerson's visit as a chance to strengthen the close relationship between New Zealand and the United States, to discuss some of the world's most pressing issues, and to further promote our economic ties," Mr Brownlee says.

"We share a deep interest in maintaining peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific region and we have worked closely together to counter terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States is our third-largest individual trading partner."

Mr Tillerson is first visiting Sydney with Secretary of Defense James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, for the 2017 Australia-US Ministerial Consultations.

Mr Tillerson will then travel to New Zealand without Mr Mattis.

He is the former chief executive of the Exxon Mobil corporation. Mr Tillerson has met President Vladimir Putin on several occasions in his role with Exxon.

During his confirmation hearing, the 64-year-old was grilled repeatedly on his connections to Russia, and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

Mr Tillerson was present at the May 10 meeting between Mr Trump and Russian officials during which he discussed his firing of James Comey, the former director of the FBI.