'Wasting time' trying to get Russia's support for Clark - Key

 Actor Alec Baldwin Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark (Getty)
Actor Alec Baldwin Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr. and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark (Getty)

Prime Minister John Key says the Government's given up on getting Russia's vote as the election for the next UN Secretary-General approaches.

Helen Clark's bid for the job is on shaky ground, with more members of the Security Council voting against the former Prime Minister at the last straw poll than for her.

Appearing on Paul Henry this morning, Mr Key said despite the vote it was really down to the permanent five to decide, since they have veto over any decisions. That's the UK, China, the US, France and Russia.

"I've rung four of the five leaders - I haven't rung Putin," said Mr Key, who added they're opposed to Ms Clark's bid and unlikely to budge.

"It's nothing to do with Helen - they want an Eastern European, or maybe worst-case scenario another European. Murray McCully, the Foreign Minister has been talking to [Sergey] Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, but really, we're wasting our time there."

He wants the other four to put pressure on Russia to not play hardball.

"The question the permanent five members have to ask themselves, is if they let the Russians set the agenda, are they getting the person they want? […] is Vladimir Putin the right person to be picking the next UN Secretary-General?"

Mr Key says she shouldn't give up yet though.

"If the Russians ultimately back someone much harder and the Americans go 'no, that person's unacceptable' and veto them and then the Americans back someone a bit harder that's not Helen and the Russians go 'no', she could come in the middle as the compromise candidate.

"She's at longer odds now, and I think Helen would admit that but I think she's still in with a chance."

 He's backed up by Labour deputy leader Annette King, who thinks she's still "50-50" to win.

"I think she should stay because the Security Council are notorious for not agreeing - she could be the one that comes through the middle," she said last week.