Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says no discussion of New Zealand joining QUAD ahead of US trip

After a delayed start, the Prime Minister has set off for a mammoth trip around the United States - but she still hasn't been able to confirm a meeting with President Joe Biden.

Hollywood - it's where the streets are lined with stars, Avatars, Spidermans and celebrity fans. Missing all of it is the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. 

She's meant to already be there, landed in the land of the free, but the trip's not off to a roaring start

"Look, COVID curveballs come our way but that doesn't mean we don't crack on with the job," she said. 

But being a bit late to getting overseas hasn't stopped the PM putting New Zealand on the world stage. She's sending 30 troops to train Ukrainians to use guns we have expert knowledge of.

"There are very few armed forces that could provide this training right now which is why New Zealand has specifically been called upon."

Since the PM's positive RAT last Saturday meant a 10-day US seclusion, diplomats have been working around the clock to rearrange this trip. Meetings with studio execs in La La Land have been ditched and hanging in the balance is the mecca of meetings: President Biden in his Oval office.

"You don't just drop the President of the United States a line about the logistics of your trip," Ardern said. 

The stakes for that hallowed handshake are through the roof for both hands. The rising threat of China has seen Biden sweeten back up to the Pacific with a new alliance 'The Quad' - America, India, Australia and Japan.

Asked if NZ could join the QUAD, Ardern said "there's no discussion of that nature and no requests either way". 

Besides actually securing that chief-to-chief mega meeting, the rest of Ardern's US trip is all-go, crisscrossing the States. She'll be catching up with the delegation in New York, there she'll meet travel editors, the UN Secretary-General and catch up with her buddy Stephen Colbert.

"We will be unashamedly promoting New Zealand in the United States as being ready to welcome visitors."

From there she'll head to Washington DC then up to Boston for the Harvard commencement speech, next back to the west coast, San Francisco, to meet the Governor and execs from Twitter. And then Seattle for Amazon and Microsoft, then maybe the White House.

"We wouldn't be discussing COVID protocols if there wasn't an intention to meet," Ardern said on Monday. 

Big plans overshadowed by uncertainty, c'est le COVID.