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Key Happy With His Bite Of The Big Apple

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
John Key on the David Letterman
John Key on the David Letterman

By Maggie Tait of NZPA

New York, Sept 27 NZPA - After meeting a who's who of international politics and raising the country's profile through his US television appearance Prime Minister John Key is counting his week in New York a success.

Attending a series of talkfests -- the United Nations General Assembly, its summit on climate change, and the Clinton Global Initiative to name but a few -- the PM's week was more about exposure and profile building than tangible outcomes.

The exception could be getting the US to agree to financially back a New Zealand initiative to set up a global alliance to do further research into reducing emissions from agriculture and food production.

Mr Key also used the platform of the General Assembly to launch New Zealand's bid for a seat on the Security Council in 2015-2016.

Two opportunities to chat with President Barack Obama were important diplomatic milestones and meetings with former President Bill Clinton and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were also worthwhile.

Mr Key also had meetings with former New Zealand PM Helen Clark in her role as head of the UN Development Programme and talked climate change with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

An appearance on the popular US late night television show hosted by David Letterman and ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange were also highlights for the Prime Minister.

"I think you've got to judge it as a success, if you look at Letterman (the television show), Tourism New Zealand looked at advertising on Letterman and the reason we didn't do that was because a 30 second slot was in the millions of dollars," he said.

"You think about the fact we got probably five minutes of him (Letterman) talking about New Zealand beforehand, five minutes afterwards ... and the five minutes we were on the show -- if you put that in perspective it just raises the profile of New Zealand."

In the General Assembly chamber the impact of the TV appearance was clear.

"Someone from Montenegro came up and said `hey I saw you on Letterman last night we're going to try and approach him to go on the show'."

His appearance on the show had also generated more than 113,000 hits on online video streaming service YouTube.

Mr Key said his decision to take on the tourism portfolio had paid dividends.

He said attending events at the UN had enhanced his opinion of the organisation.

"I think if you looked on balance you'd have to say for all of its faults its still the only place where all the countries around the world can come together and try to resolve issues.

"We live in a globally connected very complex world and I think on balance if you look at that its an organisation we were right to join in 1945 and we are right to continue to support today."

Mr Key said the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings on the sidelines was also useful.

"There's no question that a big part of these events whether they are APEC or the East Asia Summit, Pacific Islands Forum meetings or here at the United Nations is the personal relationships that you build up -- in my case it insured I got a shower when the water went out."

Mr Key used the Australian Prime Minister's bathroom when his hotel water supply failed.

President Obama's increased engagement with the UN made the organization more credible and gave it resolutions mana, Mr Key said.

Mr Key and his family are spending a few days in Florida before returning to New Zealand midweek.

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