Manmohan doesn't hold any grudge against NZ over Henry's 'racial-slur': John Key

Hanoi, Oct 30 (ANI): New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has said that his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh did not seem to hold any lingering resentment over the infamous 'Paul Henry affair' when the two premiers met at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi last night.

Although neither mentioned Henry's comments during their meeting, Key said that the Indian prime minister does not hold a grudge against New Zealand for the Kiwi broadcaster's racial remarks, NZ Herald News reported.

"If there was any damage from the Paul Henry affair it's just not clear that that's carried through to the leadership," Key told the media in Hanoi.

"I think sometimes these things are overblown and there would be a recognition on his side, like there is on my side, that we live in an open world where people say lots of things," he added.

The Kiwi premier is set to visit India next year with a business delegation, and Singh indicated he was looking forward to the visit, the paper said.

"He's very optimistic about the growth of India, he's talking about at a minimum it'll be 8.5 per cent, maybe 9, so maybe there's one or two things we can learn from that," said Key.

Before leaving for the summit, the New Zealand prime minister had said that his meeting with Singh "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,"

Earlier, 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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