World leaders keen to visit NZ

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 13:01 11/03/2014

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As many as six of the world's most powerful leaders could visit New Zealand before and after this year's G20 meeting in Australia.

Prime Minister John Key admits the visits concentrated around the G20 summit in November could present significant logistical challenges but says that with the leaders already being across the Tasman it is too good an opportunity to pass up.

In announcing the election date yesterday Key said a September 20 election would allow eight weeks for a new government to be formed before the Brisbane summit.

"A number of leaders of G20 countries have already expressed an interest in visiting New Zealand and that would not be possible if we were in the midst of an election campaign," Key said.

He refused to say which leaders could visit.

"I can't go into the individual leaders but by definition if you are a leader going to the G20 summit you're one of the 20 most influential leaders, arguably, around the world," he said.

Some of the leaders had not visited New Zealand before but had interests here.

"It's a great opportunity to have a bilateral with a country that's a long way away," he said.

Key hoped one of the visitors would be US President Barack Obama but indicated this was unlikely.

He has previously invited Obama and the leaders of Britain, Canada, Germany and France to visit before or after the summit.

Key admitted it would be a major logistical operation to bring those leaders to New Zealand.

"We'd obviously have to try and manage that process as best we could and encourage some to come before and some after," he said.

Visits by world leaders can lead to heightened security measures and significant traffic disruption.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was working with the leaders to develop plans.

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- Fairfax Media

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