Chavez's death delays Key trade talks
Formal talks between Prime Minister John Key and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera have been delayed to allow the Latin American leader to attend the funeral of Hugo Chavez.
The pair were due to meet in Santiago on Saturday (Friday in Chile). But Pinera will travel to Caracus to pay homage to the Venuzeulan President, who died yesterday.
Pinera will return to Chile for a state dinner in the evening. But a bilateral meeting between he and Key will now take place in the Capital on Sunday (Saturday in Chile).
From there Key will fly on to Puerto Montt for a barbecue at Fonterra's Soprole farm.
Key paid tribute to the controversial revolutionary, who he heard speak at Copenhagen in 2009, but never met.
"It's obviously a very sad moment for Venezuela and for the people of Venezuela," Key said." I'm sure they will miss him greatly and obviously our condolences go to the Chavez family and the people of Venezuela."
He added: "There was obviously a very acrimonious relationship there [with the US] and he was no fan of Westernised capitalism, that's for sure...it's pretty obvious where he was standing. But each country to their own.
"New Zealand had a pretty strong trading relationship with Venezuela, we sell a lot of milk powder over there, but not much really in the form of a political relationship."
He said the funeral won't disrupt the trip "enormously." "There's going to be some minor changes...obviously a number of leaders from around the region will be attending the funeral."
Key won't be going - and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who is Egypt, is considering who will represent New Zealand in Caracas.
Key doesn't believe a Kiwi presence will upset the United States. "I don't think so, really. They would say its up to us ...but look we haven't had a political relationship of any great note with Venezuela...it would be an usual thing to send the Prime Minister under those circumstances."
Key landed in Bogota, Colombia, this morning where he is due to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos.
It is the first visit of a New Zealand leader to Colombia and Key will announce support for the government's pitch to become part of the OECD.
"It's a very narrow relationship at the moment, it's not deep at all. But its got potential...agriculture, education and investment are the three big areas," he said.
The National-led government is hoping for Kiwi investment in agri-tech, dairy processing, horticulture and bio-fuel. Colombia's GDP grew by five per cent in 2011 and 2012.
Bilateral trade has increased over the last year and the number of Colombian students enrolled in Kiwi institutions soared by 100 per cent between 2007 and 2010.
New Zealand also provides around $25,000 a year in development aid. A small number of refugees have also settled in New Zealand, since 2007.
But although officials describe the relationship as "friendly" neither country operate an embassy - the New Zealand embassy in Chile is responsible for Colombia, and the Colombia's Tokyo embassy covers New Zealand.
Key hopes to see a New Zealand post open in Bogota in the future.