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Clark stirs up republican debate

Published: 1:05PM Saturday February 23, 2002

The Prime Minister has told a London audience it is absurd for New Zealand to have a head of state on the other side of the world.

Helen Clark's comments coincide with the Queen's tenth state visit to New Zealand.

But Clark says her comments were light hearted and have been reported out of context.

She says she respects the Queen for her 50 years of service, although it is unusual for a fully fledged sovereign state to have a head of state 12,000 miles away.

However National's leader Bill English says her reported comments are rude and arrogant.

He says Clark was just showing off on the other side of the world, and he would challenge her to repeat the remark when she gets back to New Zealand.