New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (left) and US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington after their meeting. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama called New Zealand and John Key an
"outstanding partner" after the pair met at the White House
But Mr Obama got Mr Key's name a little wrong, calling him Mr
He said he was very pleased that the relationship with New
Zealand was "growing stronger by the day."
He also said: "I've always been stuck by the intelligence and
thoughtfulness that the Prime Minister brings to his work."
Mr Obama made mention of the Christchurch earthquake saying
"we are still heartbroken" by it and he was impressed by the
resilience of the people to recover from the tragedy.
Mr Obama made mention of the fact that the two foreign
ministers - Hillary Clinton and Murray McCully - were in Bali
together at the ASEAN Regional Forum and were looking at
further ways to work together from "green growth to trying to
standardise regulations to increase the flow of trade".
"And throughout this process whether it's in Apec settings,
now the East Asia summit, we've always found New Zealand to
be an outstanding partner.
"And Prime Minister Keys personally has always been an
outstanding partner on these issues."
Referring to the sweltering heat in Washington he said Mr Key
had got a warmer welcome than he expected.
Mr Key said later it had been a "tremendous" visit and he's
got everything he wanted from it.
"I've got to be the luckiest Prime Minister of New Zealand in
the last 25 years. I've come to Washington and every single
person who we've met with from the Administration has wanted
to see us, has welcomed us has thanked us for the
contribution we're making and is actually genuinely
acknowledged that we are playing an important role."
"He has I think a real affection four our country. He was
genuinely concerned for the people of Christchurch. He is
committed to trade and I think when you look at it in that
perspective, we got everything out of this visit that we
could have possibly wanted.
He had got an incredibly warm welcome from the President.
"The United States is 10 days away from potentially
defaulting. Now no one is arguing that is going to happen but
he still made time for us in amongst all of that."
He said they talked a great deal about the Trans Pacific
Partnership and hoped to get a framework signed at APEC in
Honolulu in November.
He said they had spoken about Afghanistan but there was no
request for a longer commitment.
Mr Obama had specifically raised the role of the SAS troops
in the recent attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul.
He didn't mind Mr Obama getting his name wrong.
"At the end of the day that's standard. I get that right
across New Zealand let alone the United States. To be honest
it's the first time he's ever used my surname; he always
called me John so, hey, I'm not bothered."
He said it was a tough time for Mr Obama.
Mr Key gave Mr Obama a greenstone mere and explained it had
been from the tribe that cover the Christchurch area.
Mr Obama gave Mr Key a specially made replica of the sword
used by Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit which is being made in
New Zealand. It was made at the Weta workshop in New Zealand.
Asked if Mr Key had invited Mr Obama to New Zealand he said
"he invited himself to New Zealand" but realistically there
was no show of him coming before the next election - in
November next year.
"He's got a lot of issues to deal with getting out of
Washington would be a big thrill for as opposed to getting
down to New Zealand but at some point that is something I
think he would genuinely like to do."
First he will attend a dinner at the NZ embassy hosted by
ambassador Mike Moore.
It will be focused on trade and the Trans Pacific Partnership
in particular. It was not Mr Key's first visit to the White
He met Vice president Joe Biden there in April last year when
he was in Washington.