Prime Minister John Key flew out of the US after an Oval Office visit yesterday, saying: "It's hard to see the relationship getting much better."
His personal friendship with President Barack Obama, forged over Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks and the Honolulu golf course, has had pay-offs in the political relationship.
The golfing connection was evident in Obama's gift to Key, a putter engraved with his signature and the presidential seal and Key's initials, JPK, for John Phillip Key, along with some presidential golf balls.
Key left a set of black merino sweaters by Untouched World for Obama and his family.
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Obama said he wanted to visit New Zealand during his presidency which is due to end at the end of 2016.
Obama said that under his and Key's leadership terms — they were both elected to office within days of each other in 2008 — "it is fair to say the US New Zealand relationship has never been stronger".
Key said the United States and New Zealand had a shared history "that words probably can't define".
"We have a feeling and an understanding of each other and we back each other up and I think that is reflected in the nature of the relationship."
The US-led TPP led their agenda and Obama set a specific goal of getting a TPP deal to the US Congress before November.
Key announced yesterday Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would visit New Zealand soon and TPP was bound to be top of the agenda.
He also indicated on The Nation yesterday that New Zealand would not oppose US air strikes in the growing Iraq crisis.