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Key meets Italian and French leaders

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/07/2016

Prime Minister John Key has met the prime ministers of Italy and France and had dinner with New Zealand rugby stars during his visit to Europe.

And along the way he's promoting former prime minister Helen Clark's bid to become the next United Nations secretary-general.

Mr Key met his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi in Rome on Wednesday and said a trade agreement with the European Union, New Zealand's third largest trading partner, was at the forefront of the discussions.

"Prime Minister Renzi expressed strong support for a New Zealand-EU free trade agreement and the opportunities it would provide," he said.

New Zealand and the EU agreed in October last year to start the process leading towards negotiations.

From Rome Mr Key flew to Paris and a private dinner with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

On the guest list were France-based former All Blacks Dan Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Mr Key told Newshub he was doing everything he could to support Miss Clark's bid.

"I genuinely want her to succeed," he said.

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