Obama, on Hawaii vacation, golfs with New Zealand PM
KANEOHE BAY— US President Barack Obama played golf with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Hawaii on Thursday, in a rare vacation encounter with a foreign official.
The statesmen hit the green at a US Marine Corps base on the northeastern coast of the island of Oahu.
Obama and his family are spending more than two weeks in Hawaii and have rented a house near the base, located about a dozen miles (20 kilometers) from Honolulu, where Obama was born.
The leaders, joined by Key’s teenage son and White House aide Marvin Nicholson, hit several balls and joked around in front of reporters.
Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser who accompanied the president to Hawaii, tweeted that “New Zealand is one of our closest friends (and home to very good golfers…)”
In a statement, the White House said the politicians have long talked about their shared interest in golf and enjoyed the chance to spend several hours together on the course.
“President Obama and Prime Minister Key have developed a close partnership, which reflects the friendship and broad cooperation between the United States and New Zealand,” it said.
“While the two leaders are both enjoying some time off with their families and friends, they also reaffirmed our continued work together to deepen our trade relationship, enhance regional security and support the democratic values that the United States and New Zealand share.”
Thursday marked Obama’s eighth round of golf during his vacation, which hit the 13-day mark. The president usually plays with friends or colleagues and has even teed off with White House chef Sam Kass.
In contrast to his predecessor George W. Bush, who hosted foreign counterparts at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Obama prefers to surround himself with family and friends during his time off — usually spent in Hawaii at the end of the year and Martha’s Vineyard in the summer.
However, while on holiday on the swank East Coast island in 2010, he played with then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Obama is due to leave Hawaii aboard Air Force One on Sunday to return to Washington, an eight-hour flight away.
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