30 Oct 2010

Paul Henry not mentioned as Key meets Indian PM

6:46 pm on 30 October 2010

Prime Minister John Key says there was no mention of the Paul Henry affair during his meeting with the Prime Minister of India.

The two leaders met overnight at a dinner being held ahead of Saturday's East Asia Summit in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.

Paul Henry resigned as co-host of TVNZ's Breakfast show after strong reaction to remarks he made about Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and to his mocking of the name of Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, during the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Key says that if there was any damage from Mr Henry's remarks it doesn't appear to have carried through to the Indian leadership.

Invitation to UN Secretary-General

The Prime Minister has announced that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is likely to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland next year.

Mr Key extended a formal invitation to Mr Ban at the summit early on Saturday morning.

He says Mr Ban showed genuine interest in coming to New Zealand for the forum, and he believes that, if the Secretary-General's schedule allows, he will attend.

It would be the first time a UN Secretary-General had attended such a meeting, Mr Key says, and a recognition of the increasing importance of the Pacific region.

Discussion with Myanmar leader

Mr Key also says he raised the upcoming elections in Myanmar directly with the country's military dictator, Senior General Than Shwe, whom he was seated beside at a formal dinner ahead of the summit.

Myanmar is holding its first general election in 20 years on 7 November, but doubts have been raised about the fairness of the poll.

Mr Key says that General Than gave him his version of how the elections would run but that he took the discussion with a grain of salt.

Earlier, in their first formal meeting, Mr Key and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard discussed Australia's proposal to set up a regional processing centre for asylum-seekers.

Mr Key says that, while New Zealand takes the issue of aslyum- seekers seriously, he told Ms Gillard the country had no interest in hosting such a centre or putting money towards it.

He says a range of other matters was discussed, among them the political situation in Fiji, climate change and economic issues.

18 nations at summit

Sixteen countries are part of the East Asia Summit - the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus China, India, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The United States and Russia are also attending, with a view to joining next year.

Member states are working towards a deal called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia, or CEPEA, which would take the shape of a free-trade deal between the 16 summit members.

Mr Key is holding meetings on the sidelines of the summit with the leaders of Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Phillippines.