Obama promises NZ visit

Key and Obama meet (@rnzgallerychris)

During a Whitehouse talk with Prime Minister John Key, US President Barak Obama pledged to visit New Zealand before his term wa up.

"I would love to come to New Zealand because I hear it's really nice and I know the people are nice because I've had a chance to meet them," the President said.

"We are going to be working with my schedulers to see what I can come up with, if not this year certainly before the end of my presidency [in Novemer 2016]."

Mr Key earlier invited Mr Obama to visit New Zealand on the back of the G20 summit in Brisbane in November but it is not clear if Mr Obama's schedule will allow for a visit that soon.

Mr Obama said ties between NZ and the US were now as strong as they ever have been.

The president also referred to the US military's relaxation of its ban on New Zealand naval vessels berthing at American military facilities.

Mr Obama also revealed he had personally intervened to ensure the New Zealand Navy to berth at the US naval base at Pearl Harbour instead of the civilian dock during an exercise this month.

"I'm proud that my original home state of Hawaii is going to be welcoming a New Zealand ship coming into port for the first time in a couple of decades and we're very proud of that. I'm sure you will get a good welcome when they come," Mr Obama said.

"And although obviously New Zealand is a small country with a small armed forces, the cooperation we have on intelligence issues, New Zealand's excellent efforts when it comes to training and participating in peacekeeping operations, makes it an invaluable partner."

The two leaders also discussed China, North Korea, climate change and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).

Mr Key told reporters after the meeting, "Top of that list was the TPP and the capacity for the partners to reach an agreement; I feel very confident after the meeting that a high quality comprehensive deal can be achieved. There's a lot more work to be done and its never over till its over but I think there's a willingness on the part of the partners and the US and New Zealand have always been firmly of the view that the TPP was good for [our]countries and for the region."

Asked about his commentsearlier this week that the TPP might best be resolved by leaving Japan out of the deal for now, Mr Key said New Zealand wanted a high quality comprehensive deal and that was the level every participant country should aiming for.

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