Prime Minister Helen Clark wants her Australian counterpart John Howard treated with courtesy during his visit - even by those who disagree with his stance on Iraq.

The Green Party has threatened protest action when Mr Howard arrives on saturday for three days of talks.

Helen Clark has already rejected their request for the visit to be cancelled.

It has been suggested that the Greens may disrupt a state luncheon on Monday and take part in other protest action over Mr Howard's backing for American plans to invade Iraq.

Green co-leader Rod Donald refused to say what his MPs would do, but said they were not happy about the visit.

"We certainly won't be celebrating the visit and it will be a day of protest," he said.

Green MPs were not organising planned demonstrations outside Parliament or in Auckland, where talks between the two prime ministers would take place.

Mr Donald and his Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons yesterday called Mr Howard a "warmonger".

Helen Clark said it was everyone's right to express their views.

But New Zealanders might not be happy about the Greens disrupting a state function for the leader of New Zealand's closest neighbour.

"The Government certainly won't be embarrassed. I think New Zealanders might feel it is very discourteous to a visitor to have a state luncheon disrupted," she said.

The talk of protest may be irrelevant as the Prime Minister believed there was a slight chance the visit could be called off because of the outbreak of war.

The United Nations Security Council will continue to talk this week about the US desire to lead an attack on Iraq.

The US and Britain are building up their military forces and some believe an attack could take place as early as next week. Australia is highly likely to join the invasion.

"We have been conscious for some time that the time the visit is scheduled for is at a time when a lot is happening on Iraq," Helen Clark said.

New Zealand would "fully understand" if the visit was called off because of developments in Iraq.

If the talks went ahead, Iraq would certainly be discussed.

"Sure, we can discuss the general crisis, but I don't think we are going to see either endeavouring to persuade the other of the merits of the other's approach," Helen Clark said.

Security for the visit would be "appropriate to the occasion".

- NZPA

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