By 3 News online staff
Prime Minister John Key has been quoted as telling US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that New Zealand would "welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US in the next conflicts".
The comments were posted on the US State Department's website on Friday last week but went unnoticed until host of TV3 show Media 3, Russell Brown, wrote about the comments on his blog.
According to the transcript, Mr Key said: "New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US in the next conflicts."
In response, Mr Brown writes: "What the hell sort of thing is that to say when we’ve just buried several New Zealanders, killed in the dying days of a long and ultimately fruitless war at the behest of the US?"
"This isn’t Key saying something feckless off the top of his head, as he sometimes does – someone else wrote, or at least read, that line. I’m surprised it hasn’t been regarded as news, frankly."
New Zealand journalists alerted Brown to the transcriber's error on Twitter, revealing the quote was incorrect.
An audio recording of the meeting proves Mr Key did not say New Zealand would back the US "in the next conflicts". It's clear – to New Zealand ears, at least – that he is saying "in that context".
In several places in the transcript, Mr Key's words are listed as being "inaudible".
"The Prime Minister’s diction appears to have rather defeated the State Department’s transcriber," writes Mr Brown.
The Government confirmed yesterday it will withdraw troops from Afghanistan by April next year, earlier than originally planned.