A week ago, Helen Clark was in Paris having lunch at the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the French President, Jacques Chirac.
Over quail stew and fine French cheese, the pair discussed global politics and, naturally, the impasse of the Doha round of the World Trade Organisation was uppermost.
She was in the midst of perhaps the most prestigious of all her overseas trips since becoming Prime Minister in 1999.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was her host the day before; British Prime Minister Tony Blair the day before that and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was next on the list before attending Apec.
With four days between the Armistice Day opening of the New Zealand war memorial in London's Hyde Park and the day she needed to arrive in Hanoi for Apec, Europe was a logical filler.
It was also a visit that added to her credentials, which will help to land that important job after domestic politics.
Helen Clark's people talk up the interest taken in her. At the Reuters news-makers speech in London, she is said to have attracted more people than Prodi recently while at the Bertelsmann Institute in Berlin for another speech she outdid UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Helen Clark not only gets appointments with the powerful but uses them to support New Zealand's exercise of "soft power" on its carefully chosen issues.
That happened at Apec on two such issues - trade liberalisation and climate change.
Helen Clark arrived at Apec highly charged from the European circuit and with as much confidence as she has ever shown in such a setting - this latest one being her seventh Apec.
Phillip Field, pledge cards and waterfront stadiums seemed a long way away.
In her first press conference, it was clear that she had revised her optimism on the Doha round within the past week.
In London, she had talked about the need for the United States, the European Union and developing countries to take a "three-way bungy jump".
At Apec, she said "people" had not factored in the impact the French presidential elections next April might have on any EU improvement in its offer on the Doha Round.
That is shorthand for saying that domestic imperatives of France may act as a veto on the EU position. One can logically calculate the foreshadowing of a veto came from Mr Chirac.
The discussion was conveyed to Apec leaders in private discussions. She had 15 minutes with US President George Bush and you can bet the bank on her having told him about her European talks.
Taking New Zealand's typically even-handed approach, Helen Clark also criticised developing countries for their expectations to see movement only from the developed countries.
And she talked with frustration about the fine sentiments involving leaders' declarations that were often not followed through in Geneva.
There was something for everyone, including the international media who picked up on what were considered direct and bold statements.
But Helen Clark's most successful mission at Apec was in the area of climate change.
Two weeks before the meeting, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were not certain it would be on the agenda, other than through the guise of energy security issues. They hedged, saying it would depend on the "disposition" of those around the table.
Given that the US and Australia are hold-outs on the Kyoto Protocol, there are extreme sensitivities around it.
Not only did she get it into the leaders' declaration, with a lot of deference to John Howard also showing leadership on the subject, she is said to have been applauded after presenting her case to the other leaders in their closed session.
The timing has been exquisite. Without any clear policy yet released, Helen Clark within a month has managed to seize leadership of an issue domestically and in an international setting that is fast becoming recognised as electorally important as it is environmentally.
The "aspirational" goal to have a carbon neutral country seemed to have closed the gate at the Labour Party conference last month on a miserable third term in office.
Less than two weeks later, she was having a breakfast meeting with climate change leader Mr Blair and that same afternoon in the Reuters speech she said it should be an Apec issue for the first time and last weekend it was.
Energy ministers will report to leaders on policies to promote energy efficiency that "address climate-change objectives".
While she has had more than her share of failures since gaining a third term in September last year, Helen Clark's performance in foreign affairs has not been one of them.