U.S. President Barack Obama has appointed Prime Minister John Key to replace David Huebner as the United States’ ambassador to New Zealand, citing a long and enduring history of cooperation between the two administrations.
In a written statement announcing the appointment, Obama praised Key’s ongoing commitment to representation of the United States, saying it had always been clear whose best interests he had at heart.
“John has an extensive and proud history of representing the United States in New Zealand, which he has done in his own capacity for five years now,” wrote the President. “I have every confidence that he will continue to advance U.S. interests in his country and neighboring regions, and believe he is unquestionably deserving of his new post.”
Sources close to the Prime Minister say he has known for “some weeks” that Obama would name him as the next ambassador to New Zealand, and this was already apparent yesterday, as he sought to deflect questions about revelations the U.S. National Security Agency had spied on up to 35 world leaders.
Key said then that he was confident he had not been spied on by the NSA, but would not say why.
“Well, you can draw your own speculations on that,” he said, inviting wild speculation from the media.
“Is it that New Zealand secretly is the NSA?” asked 3 News Political Editor Patrick Gower.
“Maybe,” replied Key. “As I said, you can draw your own speculations.”
That same day, Key was repeatedly questioned about New Zealand’s own role in international spying operations, but said only that the GCSB had done “nothing unlawful,” and indicated that he would not comment any further.
“I don’t have all of the details and I don’t bother to ask those particular questions,” he explained, “because, actually, I’m not too concerned about it, and, frankly, I’ve had a vasectomy.”
“I think most New Zealanders would agree that’s pretty funny,” he added. “It means I have sex.”
Key would not be drawn today on his appointment as the U.S. ambassador, saying he wasn’t personally aware of it, but was confident it would not have any meaningful ramifications.
“It’s completely up to them who they appoint ambassador,” he said. “That’s got nothing to do with me, really.”