Obama to meet New Zealand PM July 22

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - US President Barack Obama will meet Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand in Washington on July 22, the White House announced Thursday.

Obama "looks forward to discussing with Prime Minister Key the close friendship and partnership between our two countries, our shared interest in stability, growth and effective regional institutions in the Asia Pacific, and our cooperation in addressing challenges like Afghanistan and Antarctica," the statement said.

New Zealand, a member of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, has a task force of 70 elite special forces troops operating in Kabul and a separate deployment of at least 140 personnel carrying out reconstruction work in Bamiyan province.

The United States in February sent a team of 70 specialized staff to help relief efforts after the deadliest earthquake in 80 years struck New Zealand.

A number of US lawmakers had just left Christchurch when it was struck by the earthquake.

The devastating 6.3 tremor in February killed 181 people.

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