Joe Biden, the US Vice-President, arrived in Auckland tonight on the plane called Air Force Two. (Air Force One is the President’s plane.) He was accompanied by many officials. This is a brief visit as part of a trip to Australia to discuss cancer research. His son, Beau, died of brain cancer last year at the age of 46. Joe Biden brought his wife and three of his grand-daughters with him to NZ including Beau’s daughter, Natalie.
It is a great honour for NZ to host an American Vice-President. He has not been here before although President Bill Clinton visited NZ in 1999 for an APEC meeting. Security is tight for this visit. There is a no-fly zone over central Auckland while he is here.
Vice-President Biden will hold talks with John Key who is due back from Indonesia tomorrow. Mr Biden said that the US is part of the Pacific and is concerned about China and the South Sea islands. He also talked about the close relationship between the US and NZ. We are one of the Five Eyes spy group along with the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
The TPP is another issue that John Key will probably discuss with Mr Biden. Mr Key might ask why there has been no progress on the TPP in the US after it was signed in NZ earlier this year. Will the US ratify it?
Another issue is whether the US will send a warship to join our navy’s 75th celebration in November. It has been 30 years since an American warship visited NZ because of our nuclear-free policy. The US says their ships do not have nuclear weapons but will not say if they use nuclear power. Perhaps they will choose to send a different ship.
• APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation
• tight security – idiom for taking care that no one attacks him
• no-fly zone – no aircraft, not even helicopters, are allowed to fly over the central city
• ratify a treaty – each country’s government has to agree to it
Note: the TPP was actually signed last October.