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McCain meeting wonderful, NZ media disgraceful

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs


19 July 2006
Media statement

McCain meeting wonderful, NZ media disgraceful

An unplanned intrusion by New Zealand media was the only down side to a wonderful and constructive meeting with Senator John McCain in Washington today, says Foreign Minister Winston Peters.

"It was an excellent meeting with Senator McCain in every respect. We couldn't have wanted better in terms of a constructive exchange of views on a number of important issues facing both countries," Mr Peters said.

"Senator McCain expressed his appreciation for our military efforts in Afghanistan, Timor Leste and the Solomon Islands, and the fact that New Zealand is pulling its weight in parts of the world he is very familiar with.

"He noted that times have changed and there is a lot of work that needs to be done around the world by like-minded democratic countries in terms of promoting good governance, peace and security.

"The only low-point of the meeting was the intrusion by New Zealand media. They arrived late but were admitted by Senator McCain's secretary part-way through the meeting to take some photos.

"They then proceeded to hijack the meeting by asking questions. We agreed to a couple but they then asked six or seven and showed no sign of stopping, despite the fact that we had already agreed to a press conference afterwards.

"Frankly it was the most embarrassing, arrogant and insulting behaviour I have ever seen. Afterwards Senator McCain apologized for the intrusion, but I said it was me who must apologise because they were New Zealand media.

"I hear radio journalist Barry Soper has described my actions in telling them to stop the questions as the worst behaviour he has seen in 25 years of political reporting.

"Well he is right, but it was his behaviour that was the problem. Since when did radio reporters take photographs? He didn't even need to come in to the meeting. Any professional, self-respecting journalist would have waited until the press conference afterwards to ask questions," Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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