PM's Koiwoi eccent sparks diplomatic incident

DANYA LEVY
Last updated 10:25 04/09/2012

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Prime Minister John Key's accent has led to an embarrassing mistake by the US State Department which appeared to suggest New Zealand was ready to join forces with the superpower in another international conflict.

The department issued a transcript of Key's recent meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which stated the Prime Minister welcomed the chance to cooperate with the US "in the next conflicts".

It implied New Zealand was ready to deploy the Defence Force with the US after its impending withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The transcript was put on the its website after the pair met on Saturday in the Cook Islands following the Pacific Island Forum.

However, it has now been corrected after the Prime Minister's office contacted the department.

The transcriber appeared to have struggled to understand Key and the uncorrected version was littered with words only identified as "inaudible".

In one part, it reported Key as saying: "Secretary Clinton and I discussed the broad range of issues in the Asia Pacific region as we look towards the APEC summit in Russia in around 10 days time. New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US in the next conflicts."

However, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister today said Key did not say what was transcribed.

"What the Prime Minister actually said was: 'We welcome the opportunity to cooperate. In that context...'," she said.

The incorrect comments outraged bloggers and sent Twitter abuzz.

Blogger Russell Brown wrote: "What the hell sort of thing is that to say when we've just buried several New Zealanders, killed in the dying days of a long and ultimately fruitless war at the behest of the US?"

The Government confirmed yesterday the Defence Force's provincial reconstruction team would be withdrawn from the Afghanistan province of Bamiyan by April next year, ahead of the 2014 date originally planned.

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