Key to test Henry’s ‘racial-slur’ fallout in meeting with Manmohan at East Asia Summit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WELLINGTON - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has said that a meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at the East Asia Summit this weekend will be an opportunity for him to ‘take India’s temperature’ and test if the Paul Henry controversy has had any lasting ‘fallout’.

The meeting “will be an opportunity to take the temperature both on the [proposed] free trade agreement, to take up his offer of a visit to India- which I’m planning to do next year with a high-level business delegation- and I guess just to test whether there’s been any fallout from the Paul Henry affair,” The New Zealand Herald quoted Key, as saying this week.

Along with Foreign Minister Murray McCully, Key will leave today for the summit in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi on Saturday. While he has no formal meeting scheduled with the Indian premier, he expects to have a discussion with him.

Earlier, Kiwi TV presenter Paul Henry’s ‘racist’ comments against New Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had outraged the Indian government, which had expressed its displeasure by summoning the New Zealand high commissioner over the issue.

Later, Henry had apologised and resigned from Television NZ since his on-air racial slurs against Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, a New Zealand-born and raised ethnic Indian, and the New Delhi chief minister.

“I am astonished and dismayed that my comments have created a diplomatic incident. My style is conversational and of course unscripted. I walk the finest of lines and accept that I have inadvertently crossed it from time to time,” he had said in a statement.

Key had reacted to his resignation by saying, “He has made that decision and I guess over the last week he’s had some time to reflect on the comments- and overall the pattern of behaviour in the last few months,” and that it was “good he has personally made that decision.”

McCully had also apologised over the issue, saying that although he was powerless to act against Henry who had made “gratuitous and insulting” race remarks about Dikshit, he accepted that it was a ” regrettable abuse of freedom of speech”. (ANI)

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