Key coy on Obama visit link to election date

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 19:04 21/01/2014

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Prime Minister John Key says several factors will decide the date of the general election, but he is coy on whether a visit by US President Barack Obama is one of them.

Key, who recently enjoyed a five-hour round of golf with Obama in Hawaii, said this afternoon he had not yet settled on a date.

He promised to give "plenty of warning" rather than calling it at short notice to shorten the campaign period.

"I'm not terribly interested in playing lots of games, I don't think there's any major political advantage of that nor is it actually ... the right thing to do," Key said.

There was room to be more flexible this year than in 2011 when the Rugby World Cup largely dictated the election's November timing.

"There's a little bit more flexibility this time, there's a few factors we're trying to weigh up that we're not exactly sure about," Key said.

The factors included international events such as the G-20 summit in Australia in mid-November, he said.

He did not know whether Obama would visit New Zealand this year.

Asked whether such a visit would influence the election date, Key said: "I wouldn't quite put it in those terms ... there's a few other things."

It would not be much further for Obama to come to New Zealand on his way to or from the G-20 summit and the US president had a standing invitation, Key said.

"Look, it would be great if he came to New Zealand, we'd obviously welcome him here but he's got a lot of countries he has to visit in a limited amount of time."

Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited New Zealand for half a day in July 2008 on her way to a gathering of Pacific leaders.


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