Prime Minister John Key has been given a spectacular official welcome in New Delhi by his counterpart Narendra Modi.

Key's limousine arrived flanked by rows of thoroughbred horses, with riders in white military uniforms, gold and blue turbans and holding flagged lances straight upward.

Then it was Modi's turn, as his black BMW slowed as four sunglass-wearing protection officers jumped from a still-moving car behind and walked at each corner of the Prime Minister's car, holding guns.

LISTEN: NZ Herald political reporter Nicholas Jones spoke to Rachel Smalley from India

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Modi has become known for hugging other world leaders by way of greeting, but there was no hug forthcoming when he greeted Key, only a handshake. Modi also has a reputation for robust handshakes, but Key did not appear to show any ill effects.

Security was tight at the event, with media not allowed to take cellphones inside the Rashtrapai Bhavan (President's House) and bags and gear swiped for explosive residue.

A band played God Defend New Zealand, and Key was marched down 50 metres of red carpet to inspect a military guard standing next to gold cannons.


Modi, wearing his signature long tunic, did not make a statement to media.

Key said he was happy to be in India again with Bronagh, and was looking forward to progressing the two countries' relationship in talks with Modi later today.

Key said he recognised India had issues it wanted to raise, including its bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of 48 countries that control access to sensitive nuclear technology.

The talks will also cover free-trade agreement negotiations that have struggled over 10 negotiation rounds since beginning in 2010.

Yesterday Key said securing a quality FTA would take time, but he expected his visit to be a "push from the top" that would give reason for the negotiators to "put their shoulder to the wheel".

Dropping steep agricultural tariffs would be extremely controversial in India, the world's largest producer and consumer of milk with millions of small-scale farmers.

Key said farmers need not fear a trade deal, saying it would mean more New Zealand investment and collaboration to strengthen food production.

New Zealand was pursuing trade deals like the one with India because "we don't want to have all our eggs in the Chinese market", Key said.