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US VP Joe Biden to visit NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/07/2016

US Vice-President Joe Biden © Getty Images US Vice-President Joe Biden US Vice-President Joe Biden will make a flying visit to New Zealand next week in a significant sign of the two nations' "high-performing" relationship, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key told reporters in London on Tuesday the July 20-21 visit would be the first by a US vice-president to New Zealand since the early 1970s.

"It's likely to be a pretty quick trip - 24 hours on the ground in New Zealand but the significance of it won't be lost on anyone."

Mr Key said New Zealand's relationship with the US continued to go from strength to strength as indicated by Mr Biden finding time to visit.

"The famous sort of rock in the road that was described by George W Bush has been well and truly walked around," Mr Key said, referring to New Zealand's nuclear-weapon-free-zone policy.

"We're now in a position I think where most people can see that we've got a very, very high-performing functioning relationship with the United States."

Mr Key said Mr Biden's visit was "effectively as symbol of that relationship".

He said it would be a chance to talk about the upcoming US presidential election as well as regional issues as President Barack Obama's pivot into Asia such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

"It's a good opportunity for us to have a stocktake and a meaningful discussion with the second-most important person in the US"

Mr Key said it was also a chance to "showcase how great New Zealand is" and what opportunities there might be for US companies in New Zealand.

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