Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

Paris talks highlight Security Council bid

French President Francois Hollande. Photo / AP
French President Francois Hollande. Photo / AP

After his jaunt with royalty, Prime Minister John Key will return to business with a thud tonight, when he is due to meet French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Mr Key will be hoping to persuade France - a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council - to back New Zealand's bid for council membership in 2015.

France is likely to back European Union nation Spain for one of the two seats, but Mr Key is hopeful it will opt for New Zealand over Turkey for the second seat.

"They are very influential in Europe and they could sway a lot of votes potentially in our favour."

Mr Key said he would also discuss Syria before travelling to New York to speak at the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

The PM will also meet Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici while in France - and he has a sales job to do: trying to persuade the EU to start free trade talks with New Zealand.

Mr Key said New Zealand was one of only five trading nations that did not have a free trade agreement or was not in talks with the EU towardsone.

He raised the same issue in Britain, and said France was also very influential and could be a powerful ally for New Zealand's case with the wider European Union.

Although trade with Asia was rocketing, he said New Zealand had learned the importance of diversification from the 1970s, when Britain entered the European Common Market.

"It had a dramatic impact on our economy back then. That was really because all our eggs were in the British basket. Now we just want to make sure we don't end up with all those eggs in the Chinese basket."

Mr Key said the German elections would also be discussed, and France's views on the future of the eurozone.

- NZ Herald

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