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NZ PM Ardern Offers Virus Info to Biden11/23 06:29


   WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 
Monday became the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden 
on his election victory, saying she offered to share her nation's expertise on 
dealing with the coronavirus.

   Ardern said the tone of the 20-minute phone call was warm and that Biden 
spoke very favorably about how New Zealand was handling the pandemic.

   "What has been really at the center of our response has been some 
fundamentals around testing, contact tracing, isolation," Ardern said. "That's 
over and above what we've done at our borders."

   New Zealand has been largely successful in eliminating the virus after 
imposing a strict lockdown in March and closing its borders. Only 25 people in 
the nation of 5 million have died from COVID-19.

   Ardern said Biden wanted to pursue the discussion on New Zealand's response 
further. But she cautioned that the nation's model may not be able to be 
replicated everywhere.

   "While New Zealand has a number of natural advantages that have assisted us 
in managing the virus, I do absolutely believe that international cooperation 
continues to be key to getting the virus under control," Ardern said. "We are 
happy to work with any country to share our knowledge and data if its helpful."

   Ardern said she and Biden also discussed trade issues and climate change, 
and talked about the president-elect's Irish heritage and his fond memories of 
visiting New Zealand a few years ago. She said she invited him to come visit 

   In a statement, Biden praised Ardern's "extraordinary leadership" following 
a 2019 mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques, and as a working mother and 
role model.

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