New Zealand said today it has begun talks with France in an attempt to repair their diplomatic relations, which were damaged by revelation that French agents had sunk a Greenpeace vessel in Auckland last July.

In a speech to the General Assembly, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer said he had met for an hour last night with French Foreign Minister Raymond Dumas, and "we began to discuss possible ways to find solutions to problems arising from the incident." They agreed to hold a second meeting in New York later this week.

The French called the talk "businesslike," while Palmer told reporters the meeting was "amicable and constructive."

The subjects under discussion, they said, included a French payment of compensation, a formal apology and the prosecution of French secret service agents responsible for the deed. Two French nationals are being held in New Zealand and are scheduled to go on trial on murder, arson and conspiracy charges in November.

A photographer aboard the ship was killed when it was blown up by two underwater mines in Auckland, as it prepared to sail to French Polynesia to protest the French nuclear tests at Mururoa Atoll.

France acknowledged its responsibility earlier this week.