John Weekes

John Weekes is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Top dogs all smiles after lunch

John Key with US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta after lunch yesterday. Photo / Michael Craig
John Key with US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta after lunch yesterday. Photo / Michael Craig

We're best friends now, but the top dog of the US armed forces took no chances after waving goodbye to his hosts at a plush vineyard yesterday.

Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta left in an 11-strong motorcade with an armoured Land Cruiser, after emerging from lunch with Prime Minister John Key and bilateral hangers-on.

Key said the men had discussed Syria, China and Afghanistan.

International relations expert Professor Stephen Hoadley said the scale of Panetta's visit was noted abroad - the Washington Post ran an unusual, extensive report on the trip.

Key confirmed New Zealand would keep its anti-nuclear legislation. Hoadley said the US acceptance of this was a victory for New Zealand.

"The clash of the two countries that started in 1985 when [David] Lange finally cancelled the [nuclear visits] has ended with the United States yielding a lot more than New Zealand."

The Prime Minister also disclosed a visit from Barack Obama was possible if Obama won another term.

"Never say never. It'd always be welcome."

- Herald on Sunday

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