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NZ PM won't speculate on UN vetoes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/10/2016

Helen Clark lost out on becoming the next UN Secretary-General because Security Council members compromised on a European candidate, Prime Minister John Key says.

The council has unanimously recommended former Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Guterres as successor to Ban Ki-moon.

Guterres is expected to be formally recommended to the 193-member General Assembly with a vote on Thursday.

During the ballot process three of the five permanent members cast vetoes against the former NZ Prime Minister - any one of them would have blocked her.

Mr Key understood Russia and France would veto Miss Clark, and on Thursday he was asked to name the third nation.

"There's a lot of politics in these decisions, and a lot of speculation ... I don't think it takes you a hell of a long way," he replied.

Mr Key says that in the end it was simply a matter of the UN sticking to its rotation program.

"The Russians compromised on a European candidate," he said.

"I'm disappointed for Helen, I think she would have been a reforming secretary-general and it's high time we had a woman at the head of the UN."

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, whose nomination was not endorsed by the Turnbull government, said it was a tribute to Mr Guterres and Portugal.

"Deepest congratulations to Antonio Guterres on election as UN SG," Mr Rudd tweeted on Thursday.

Mr Key, and Ms Clark, have also congratulated Mr Guterres.

"He has solid credentials, he is the former head of government of Portugal and was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for 10 years," Mr Key said on Thursday.

"The role of UN Secretary-General is more important than ever and we have high expectations of him."

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