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Key meets French president in Paris

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/07/2016

Prime Minister John Key has met French President Francois Hollande, saying after their talks he was optimistic about New Zealand's chances of negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union.

"I reiterated to the president the importance we attach to a free trade agreement with the EU," Mr Key said after the meeting in Paris.

"He was very positive so we come away from this visit very optimistic we are on a good path."

New Zealand's two-way trade with the EU is worth more than $20 billion a year.

Mr Key also pushed former prime minister Helen Clark's bid to become the next UN Secretary-General.

He said President Hollande was "very positive" about Miss Clark's abilities and the role she could play.

Before he leaves Paris Mr Key is attending Bastille Day commemorations at President Hollande's invitation.

Ahead of the meeting with the French president Mr Key had a private dinner with Prime Minister Manuel Valls, where France-based former All Blacks Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith were on the guest list.

Mr Key came to Paris from Rome, where he met Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

After their meeting he said Mr Renzi "strongly supported" a free trade agreement between New Zealand and the EU.

Mr Key will soon be on his way to Indonesia where he will hold talks with government leaders and head a trade mission.

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