Broadcaster Sean Plunket has suggested US Vice President Mike Pence requested to be seated next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern because he wants to sit next to a "pleasant looking woman".
Ms Ardern is in Singapore this week to take part in the East Asia Summit, where she will meet Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for the first time.
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She said she will make the most of being seated next to Mr Pence, intending to use the dinner to discuss steel and aluminium tariffs placed on New Zealand and other countries.
"It's a great opportunity for me to raise issues that New Zealanders are focused on," she said.
But Plunket believes Mr Pence isn't choosing her because he wants to talk trade, but rather that she's a "pleasant looking" white woman.
"Could it just be that Mike Pence doesn't want to sit next to an Asian person and Jacinda Ardern is the most pleasant looking woman in the room," he said.
"She's lucky it's not [Donald] Trump. Anything could happen, there would be hands and everything if it was Donald Trump she was sitting next to."
Plunket did not elaborate further on his comments, only to say he believes that is a far more likely explanation than Mr Pence having important matters to discuss with Ms Ardern.
"Could it just be that Mike Pence doesn't want to talk tariffs with Jacinda Ardern, he just wants to sit next to a white woman at an Asian leaders' summit. I think that is more probable and more possible."
Plunket is filling in for Mark Sainsbury on RadioLIVE Morning Talk over the next two weeks after having hosted the show from April 2013 to December 2015.
In 2017 he worked as press secretary for Gareth Morgan's Opportunity Party. He resigned from the Broadcasting Standards Authority after asking on Twitter if anyone felt sorry for disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.