John Key to have showdown with Russia over Helen Clark

John Key (File)
John Key (File)

Prime Minister John Key will have a one-on-one meeting with Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev where its blocking of Helen Clark as United Nations Secretary-General is sure to come up.

Mr Key will meet with Mr Medvedev - Russia's second-most powerful person behind Vladamir Putin - at the East Asia Summit in Laos this week.

Russia's preference is for an eastern European candidate - and given it has a Security Council veto there is no way Ms Clark could get the job if Russia decides to block her. 

Mr Key will also have several chances to meet up with US President Barack Obama, who is in Laos and is then travelling on to Micronesia for the Pacific Islands Forum.

It is the first visit to Laos by a sitting US President - and hugely symbolic, marking the US effort to exert its power in the Pacific where China is a steadily growing power.

Mr Obama's presence in Vientiane means a big topic of discussion will be the almost-dead Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mr Obama will want to give it a final push to the ASEAN leaders before its last chance to be ratified in the "lame duck" session after the mid-term elections in November and before his last day in office on January 1. 

Mr Obama's visit marks a pivot to Asia after a seven-year effort to boost economic and security fronts in the region in response to China'a growing strength.

Another talking point will be the South China Sea, where China is expanding its footprint to the concern of the US - which is likely to cause tension between Mr Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping.

On Wednesday night (local time) Mr Key has bilateral meetings with Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is a State Counsellor in Myanmar. 

He will also have bilaterals with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull and the Prime Ministers of Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The leaders have a gala dinner hosted by Laos Prime Minister Thonglun Sisoulith and his wife, while on Thursday Mr Key meets with Mr Medvedev before the East Asia Summit officially opens.

Also on his schedule is a visit to an unexploded ordnances centre where there'll be a demonstration.

Laos is the most-bombed country per capita, with the United States dropping roughly 2 million tonnes of munitions on it during the Vietnam War.

The province where New Zealand has been offering aid for about 20 years is the most heavily bombed province in the country.

Later this week Mr Key heads to the Federated States of Micronesia for the Pacific Islands Forum.