Key sets off for top-level UN meetings
Prime Minister John Key will soon be rubbing shoulders with 160 world leaders at the United Nations – and he's hoping he'll get a chance to talk trade with US President Barack Obama.
Mr Key is due to arrive late this morning for his first visit to the UN since New Zealand won a seat on the Security Council in October last year.
He's there to attend the opening of the 70th General Assembly and on Thursday he'll deliver New Zealand's statement.
Mr Key will also attend President Obama's leaders' summit on countering the Islamic State (IS) and violent extremism around the world.
University of Otago international relations expert Robert Patman told the Paul Henry programme IS is becoming a pressing issue.
"They have actually doubled their recruitment of foreign fighters. According to American sources, [IS] now has 30,000 foreign fighters in its ranks, which is an increase of 15,000 during the last year," he says. "This is despite… coordination amongst the 60-plus coalition members against [IS]."
Meanwhile, Mr Key hopes he will be able to talk to President Obama one-on-one about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Mr Key says the 12 countries involved are "inching closer" to agreement.
Although the negotiations are beset with problems, dairy access being one of them, Trade Minister Tim Groser says progress is being made.
"I'm still optimistic we'll get this deal done, and I think it will be done by the end of the year - 90 percent is where my head is," he told reporters.
"And I think we can get a very good deal for New Zealand."
Mr Groser says Mr Key's discussions will be important.
"You don't have the leaders of countries sit down and negotiate the technicalities of a deal, but the political-level negotiations they have set the tone."
President Obama also believes that after eight years of negotiations, an agreement is within reach.
"Most chapters have been completed at this point," he said last week.
The TPPA countries are the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
NZN / 3 News