Mr Key goes to Washington

TRACY WATKINS IN WASHINGTON DC
Last updated 06:42 20/06/2014

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Washington has opened its doors for John Key as he spends the day in a round of meetings ahead of his White House visit tomorrow.

Key this morning met one of the world's most powerful woman, US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellan, and said he was seeking a readout on the US economy.

He also held a meeting with United States Trade Representative, whose views on progress in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement will help inform Key of latest developments ahead of his meeting with President Barack Obama tomorrow.

Tomorrow, Key will be briefed at the Pentagon by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, before heading into a meeting with Secretary of the Treasury, Jacob Lew.

Later today he meets US Secretary of State John Kerry, who he caught up with briefly on his arrival in Washington yesterday.

Today's meeting is a more formal meeting at the State Department and is a chance for Key to press New Zealand's case for a seat on the United Nations Security Council with one of its five permanent members, the US.

The US does not publicly state which country it will support but its support would be hugely important to New Zealand.

Key said he had Kerry had a "two second chat' the evening before about Iraq and expected a "fairly detailed download of what he thinks will happen [there]."

But Key said he would also be seeking his perspective on events in the Ukraine, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Speaking ahead of his meeting with Yellan, Key said he would also be in listening mode during that session.

"She's been undertaking tapering ....which is essentially the US not printing money, and reducing that by around $10 billion a month. First I'll be interested in when she thinks tapering will finish, is that about October, and does she see a point at which the US is likely to raise interest rates."

That could have positive spin-offs for New Zealand, where interest rates were likely to fall as a result.

At a brief photo-opportunity after the meeting, Yellan was asked about New Zealand's "rock star" economy and she responded she had been hearing about that from Key.

"I just heard a lot of very good things about the New Zealand economy and  it seems to be doing extremely well."

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