Key makes headway in Colombia

Last updated 09:32 07/03/2013
SOMBRERO MOMENT: "My media are going to love this."

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Prime minister John Key has made a lasting impression on Colombia - donning a sombrero at a joint press conference with President Juan Manuel Santos.

The light-hearted moment came after more than an hour of serious talks, in which New Zealand pledged to back Colombia's pitch to join the OECD groupings. In turn Colombia will support New Zealand's bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Key is the first New Zealand prime minister to visit Colombia. He was greeted with full military honours at the El Narino palace, in Bogota, where Santos works and lives.

Both leaders were presented with gifts - rugby balls and a striped hat. Key immediately tried it on, saying: "My media are going to love this."

At the palace the pair issued a joint communique promising to strengthen bilateral relations.

Key wants Colombia to open more doors to trade an investment. And Santos indicated a will to lower crippling import tariffs, saying he'd like to sew up a free trade agreement with New Zealand.

New Zealand will also invest $3.4m over four years to develop agriculture in Colombia.

There will also be annual "consultations" between officials in both countries.

Colombia wants to boost its place on the world stage and integrate further into the Asia Pacific region.

Key said Colombia has made "huge strides" economically and politically in the last decade. It is fast becoming a "major player" in Latin America.

He has invited Santos to visit New Zealand.

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