John Key will press Obama again if Helen Clark survives next UN straw poll

By Audrey Young

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark faces another straw poll early on Tuesday for the top UN post. Photo AP
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark faces another straw poll early on Tuesday for the top UN post. Photo AP

Prime Minister John Key says he will talk to United States President Barack Obama in Laos next week about Helen Clark if she survives the next ballot for United Nations Secretary-General.

The UN Security Council will conduct a third secret straw poll tomorrow morning (NZ time) and results are expected to be leaked by 9 am, on past performance.

Key said he hoped the results for the former Prime Minister would be an improvement on the second poll, in which she slipped to seventh out of 11, from sixth out of 12 the first vote.

But he did not have a definitive view on what would force her withdrawal.

"I don't have a particular threshold where I think it would be a good idea to stay in the race or get out of the race," he said at his post cabinet press conference.

"I think that's a matter for Helen. She can assess that best but obviously we'd hope that she starts moving up a little bit and not moving down.

"She is doing her best. She is giving it a good shot and with a bit of luck she'll get some movement positively."

Key is heading to Laos next week for the East Asia Summit, which Obama is also attending.

Key has already had a telephone conversation with Obama about Helen Clark and he said he would look to follow up that discussion in Laos.

Prime Minister John Key has already had a telephone conversation with President Barack Obama about Helen Clark's UN bid. Photo Pete Souza/ White House
Prime Minister John Key has already had a telephone conversation with President Barack Obama about Helen Clark's UN bid. Photo Pete Souza/ White House


"I'm not going to go into all the conversations I have with the president because I don't think that is appropriate but I think he has a lot of respect for Helen Clark."

Key dismissed speculation that the work of New Zealand diplomats in New York were being constrained in some way by Clark's bid.

"I definitely don't think it is having any impact on our agenda or the issues we are trying to push on the Security Council," he said.

"We are not holding back our punches because we are trying to support Helen Clark's candidature."

They are not in any way, shape or form being duplicitous. They are not saying one thing to our face and another thing behind our back.
John Key on Russia

He said September would be an important month for New Zealand because it would be chairing the Security Council.

It will the second time in New Zealand's two-year term that it chairs the council and Key himself will take charge for a stint during UN leaders' week.

Key has spoken to leaders of four of the five Permanent Five members of the Security Council - each of which have the ultimate power of veto over the Secretary General selection.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, above, has had extensive discussions with his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully. Photo Dean Purcell.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, above, has had extensive discussions with his New Zealand counterpart, Murray McCully. Photo Dean Purcell.


He would talk to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev if he attended the East Asia Summit and he would talk to President Vladimir Putin if he thought it would "move things along."

But Foreign Minister Murray McCully had had extensive conversations with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

Key said the Russians had been completely up front with New Zealand.

"They are not in any way, shape or form being duplicitous. They are not saying one thing to our face and another thing behind our back."

Russia was being quite clear that it wanted an Eastern European candidate.

- NZ Herald

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