14 May 2009

Key has first conversation with Obama

10:40 pm on 14 May 2009

Prime Minister John Key says his first phone conversation with Barack Obama was cordial and touched on a number of issues important to New Zealand.

Mr Key said he spoke with Barack Obama about nuclear proliferation, the economy, the importance of a free trade agreement and New Zealand's contribution in Afghanistan during the 15-minute conversation on Thursday morning.

Mr Key said Mr Obama thanked New Zealand for its contribution in Afghanistan but did not ask for SAS troops to be sent.

Mr Key told Mr Obama that New Zealand has rolled over its defence commitment in Afghanistan until September 2010 and the Government was undertaking a review of New Zealand's long-term commitment in the area.

Mr Key said Mr Obama spoke of the strong relationship between New Zealand and the US, and that he hoped it would strengthen.

On the issue of free trade, Mr Key said Mr Obama seemed sympathetic and made it clear that it was on the agenda for them to discuss.