Get the bunting ready, Eketahunans, and be prepared for a visit from President Obama

Alf is delighted to report something he had previously kept confidential.

But now it’s out in the open, thanks to the Herald and the NZPA.

It’s the story about the closeness of the relationship between John Key and the President of the USA.

Not many people claim to have a direct line, but Prime Minister John Key says he has such a good relationship with Barack Obama he can call him at will – and the United States President will pick up the phone.

Mr Key’s comment came in a speech before 300 diplomats and former politicians at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.

He said an extensive travel schedule had helped him form strong bonds with a number of world leaders, including Mr Obama.

“In the first instance what we get is personal relationships, so if I needed to ring up the President of the United States I could do that and he would take my call.

“And that’s partly because I have developed a personal relationship from getting to know him at Apec or the nuclear security summit.”

The Herald goes on to point out that Key and Obama have met, spoken and written to each other since coming to office in late 2008 and early 2009 respectively.

They first spoke in May last year for 15 minutes on a pre-arranged telephone call that ended up on a first-name basis.

They met for the first time at the United Nations last September at lunch and at dinner.

They met again in November at Apec in Singapore where Mr Obama invited Mr Key to the nuclear summit in Washington this year, hosted by Mr Obama.

They corresponded in the lead-up to the select summit attended by only 40 leaders.

And during the two days it was on in April, they had plenty of opportunity to converse.

The likelihood of Key making an official visit to the White House next year is aired.

Good, eh?

We can be proud that our John is on such close terms with the President of the USA.

Alf happened to be in the PM’s office recently.

The Boss was keen to show off how easy it is to contact the leader of the Free World.

He picked up the phone, dialled, and – as far as Alf could tell – it was Obama who took the call.

Alas, Alf could not hear what Obama actually said to The Boss.

But he heard everything from the Beehive end of the call.

“That you Barack? It’s your old mate John here.”

Pause.

“John Key.”

Pause.

“Prime Minister of New Zealand.”

Pause.

“N…E…W… Z…E…A…L..A…N…D.”

Pause.

“Down in the South Pacific, across the Tasman from Australia…”

Alf scribbled a quick note and slipped it across the desk.

The PM dutifully took advantage of the information.

“Alf Grumble is one of our members of Parliament … the member for North Eketahuna.”

Pause.

“He’s fine…in fact he’s right here with me. You want to talk to him?”

Obama did. And we chatted. And he said no promises, but he would love to visit Eketahuna some day soon.

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