Prime Minister John Key says French President Francois Hollande was "very positive" about Helen Clark's bid to be the Secretary-General of the UN.

Key had a formal meeting with Hollande after attending the Bastille Day Parade in Paris last night.

Mr Key said the two discussed Clark's run to be Secretary-General. "The President was very positive about Helen Clark, her abilities and the role she could play."

France is one of the five permanent members on the Security Council which will whittle nominees for the top job at the UN down to a shortlist later this month. The permanent members have the power to veto any of the candidates for the role.


Key and Hollande also discussed New Zealand's hopes for a free trade agreement with the EU. Key has previously said France was likely to be the toughest obstacle for a good deal on agriculture because of its strong farming lobby.

"I reiterated to the President the importance we attach to a free trade agreement with the European Union. He was very positive so we come away from this visit very optimistic we are on a good path."

It was slightly weaker than Key's description of the reaction from Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi earlier in the week. Renzi was said to have voiced "strong support" for an agreement.

Key was due to visit the Arras tunnels tomorrow and visit New Zealand war memorials nearby before leaving France late on Saturday night.