'No substitute for face to face diplomacy' International analyst on PM's US trip

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is en route to the United States with the hopes of her first White House visit and a meeting with US President Joe Biden. 

It's hoped the visit will now take place next week.

The visit would be the first White House visit for a prime minister since 2014 when John Key met with Barack Obama.

International analyst for the Democracy Project Geoffrey Miller joined Rachel Smalley on First Light to discuss the possible presidential catch-up and why it would be an important visit.

"There really is no substitute for face to face diplomacy and we've seen so much ZOOM diplomacy over the last couple of years, Miller said.

"It's exciting to see Jacinda Ardern travelling again and being beside the leader of the free world and that's what she hopes will happen unless COVID gets in the way, She hopes that she'll get a meeting in the White House and there's just no substitute for those optics. 

"Jacinda Ardern really is a star in her own right and her star power if anything, it's only increased over the past couple of years, which sounds counter-intuitive at a global level because she's been stuck in New Zealand. She hasn't been out there in the world. But you know,  Jacinda Ardern's strategy with dealing with COVID really resonated with a lot of people around the world, particularly when Trump was still in office.

"She very much developed that anti-Trump persona, which she already had even before COVID, if you recall. But she's really developed it throughout COVID, and this will be the icing on the cake actually getting to be there in person alongside Joe Biden.

Smalley asked Miller if the Biden visit didn't go ahead would the trip have been a waste of time.

"It would certainly be a disappointment if she doesn't get the meeting because she is doing a lot on this trip. She's meeting the governor of California, She's giving the Harvard University commencement address, She's going on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

"There are so many highlights of this trip.

"It would be a disappointment if COVID protocols stop this visit to the White House from going ahead. 

Miller says if that did happen most people would understand it was just COVID protocols that got in the way.

Listen to the full interview between Geoffrey Miller and Rachel Smalley above.