Foreign Minister Murray McCully is heading to Russia, Britain and Europe next week for key meetings ahead of New Zealand's chairmanship of the UN Security Council next month.

His meetings will include three permanent members of the UN Security Council: Britain, Russia and France.

McCully makes no mention in his statement of any plans to raise the issue of Helen Clark's candidacy for UN Secretary General in his meetings with counterparts.

The former Prime Minister is understood to be taking some time to decide whether to continue through to the next Security Council ballot at the end of August or pull out.


McCully's trip to London will be his first official meeting with new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson since the UK voted in June to leave the European Union.

His talks in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be the first visit to Russia by any New Zealand minister since 2014 when Tim Groser was almost on the brink of signing a free trade deal. Groser was pulled back amid the international uproar over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

McCully will visit Paris to meet with Foreign Minister Jean-March Ayrault and Hungary for talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

His statement says the meetings with Russia and France will focus on New Zealand's upcoming presidency of the Security Council.

McCully will also be going to Slovakia, which currently holds the six-month presidency of the European Union.

Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, who will host McCully, is one of the candidates for the UN Secretary General's position.

He has been faring worse than former Prime Minister Helen Clark, having finished 10th out of 11 candidates in last week's ballot and seventh out of 12 in the first ballot. Clark finished seventh and sixth respectively.

New Zealand is nearing the end of its two-year term on the Security Council and next month's chairmanship will be its second stint.

It is not yet known what theme New Zealand will want to promote but last year it sought to raise the profile of small island states.