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Obama eyes New Zealand trip

US President Barack Obama said Friday that he is badgering his staff to line up a trip to New Zealand, after holding talks with his golfing buddy, Prime Minister John Key.

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama said on Friday that he is badgering his staff to line up a trip to New Zealand, after holding talks with his golfing buddy, Prime Minister John Key.

Obama and Key met for talks in the Oval Office on trade, security and economic issues, but the conversation also turned to their shared passion for the links and Obama's travel plans.

"I indicated to him that I would love to come to New Zealand because I hear it's really nice," Obama told reporters.

"We're going to be working with my scheduler to see what I can come up with, if not this year, certainly before the end of my presidency," Obama said.

One possible window for an Obama trip to New Zealand could come this year -- as the president is already due to head down under for the G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia in November.

Obama also recalled that he and Key had enjoyed a round of golf together in Hawaii in January, and complimented his visitor's son on the quality of his game.

"It is important to note that John's son Max can outdrive both of us by a substantial amount," Obama said.

Obama and Key are both proponents of a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade deal that would encompass 40 per cent of the global economy and both expressed hopes long-running negotiations could be concluded soon.

Obama also complimented New Zealand for its role in peacekeeping operations and for cooperating with Washington on intelligence matters.

"I think it's fair to say that the US-New Zealand relationship has never been stronger," he said.

Key said after the talks that he particularly appreciated Obama's global leadership, at a time when the president is juggling deepening crises in Iraq and in Ukraine.

"We know that it's never an easy day in the office here in the Oval Office," Key said.

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