Prime Minister John Key used a brief encounter with US President Barack Obama in New York this morning to discuss Syria and the Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks.
Mr Key managed to get a moment with the President after Mr Obama spoke in the General Assembly debate at the United Nations.
He said the pair had discussed New Zealand's position on the TPP talks. "I think there's a real window of opportunity for us with the ministerial talks taking place in Atlanta we've got to actually land that deal." He said there was still room to close on dairy from New Zealand's perspective and automobiles and patent protection for the US. Mr Key said Mr Obama was aware that if an agreement could not be reached this week, time could run out. "
They also discussed Islamic State and Mr Key said New Zealand's position was aligned with the position Mr Obama set out in his speech at the General Debate. In that speech, Mr Obama said Syria's president Bashar al-Assad was a tyrant and could not remain in power in the long term, but the US was open to his regime remaining in control for an interim period as parties focused on Islamic State.
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Mr Key spent much of the morning sitting in on the debate at the UN - the highlight of which was the showdown between Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin over Syria.
Mr Obama repeated the United States' concern about Russia's annexation of Crimea and "aggression" in Ukraine as well as its military support for the Assad regime in Syria. He described Assad as a "tyrant" but reinforced the United States' new position of allowing Assad to remain during any transition of power.
In return Mr Obama was given a dose of sarcasm from Mr Putin, who pointed out while the US had accused Russia of acting for its own ambitions in Ukraine and Syria, it was hardly free of ambitions itself.
Mr Putin said Russia's stance was not one of ambition but a recognition of the need to drive Islamic State out. He said it was a serious mistake to refuse to cooperate with Syria and the Assad regime on that, given it was Assad's forces and the Kurdish militia who were battling Islamic State.
Mr Putin also pointed to foreign interference in countries in the Middle East before saying it had resulted in the destruction of democracy. "I can not help asking those who caused this situation, 'do you know now what you've done?"'
Mr Key said he had also outlined New Zealand's new announcement for a massive marine sanctuary around the Kermadecs - something the US State Department had pushed for.