No hard feelings over Paul Henry

By Kate Chapman

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not hold a grudge against New Zealand for broadcaster Paul Henry's racial comments, Prime Minister John Key says.

Mr Key met Dr Singh at the East Asia Summit (EAS) in Hanoi, Vietnam last night.

Neither mentioned Henry's comments, but Mr Key said there did not seem to be any lingering resentment from the Indian leader.

Henry resigned following international outrage after he asked Mr Key whether New Zealand-born Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand, who is of Indian descent, was "even a New Zealander" on TVNZ's Breakfast show.

The situation escalated when attention focussed on Henry laughing at the name of Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

"If there was any damage from the Paul Henry affair it's just not clear that that's carried through to the leadership," Mr Key told media in Hanoi.

"I think sometimes these things are overblown and there would be a recognition on his side, like there is on my side, that we live in an open world where people say lots of things."

Mr Key will visit India next year with a business delegation and Dr Singh indicated he was looking forward to the visit.

"He's very optimistic about the growth of India, he's talking about at a minimum it'll be 8.5 per cent, maybe 9, so maybe there's one or two things we can learn from that."

Mr Key also held a formal meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last night.

He has invited Mr Ban to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland next year and said it was highly likely he would come.

If Mr Ban attends he will be the first secretary general to do so.

"I think it's good for the Pacific and it'll be great for the meeting."

Mr Key said they had a fruitful conversation.

Mr Ban extended his gratitude to Sir Geoffrey Palmer who would head a UN investigation into the attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla and the discussed the direction of the UN Security Council.

Mr Key also met United States Secretary General Hillary Clinton at the gala dinner for leaders at the National Convention Centre last night.

Mr Key shook hands with her and had a quick chat but said he did not want to dominate her attention because she would visit New Zealand next week.

"It was a relatively brief exchange of pleasantries but I said I was looking forward to seeing her in New Zealand."

Mr Key said the two would talk again during the summit today.

Earlier last night Mr Key held his first formal bi-lateral with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard since her election.

The two agreed to met again in New Zealand early next year.

Today the EAS gets down to business with a plenary meeting and leaders lunch.

Mr Key will also hold a number of official meetings with other leaders and attend a commemorative summit to celebrate New Zealand's relationship with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

He said work on free trade agreements were taking shape although a definite outcome from this forum was not likely.

"It would be great if we could all agree on every single issue and the world would be a very happy place," Mr Key said.

However, that was not the case and the EAS provided and forum for leaders to discuss issues and solve problems, he said.

That may be easier said than done with China and Japan already a loggerheads over disputed islands in the South China Sea and claims by Beijing that Japan had lied about a meeting between the two countries leaders and the so-called Currency Wars still an issue.

- NZPA

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