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Goff in damage control mode

Max Bradford National Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

19 February 2001

Goff in damage control mode

The public disagreement by two Cabinet Ministers over the US and British air strikes against Iraq shows why New Zealand should not have two conflicting trigger buttons on Foreign Affairs, National's Foreign Affairs spokesperson Max Bradford said today.

"Foreign Minister Phil Goff is trying to soften Associate Foreign Minister Matt Robson's outburst but the messages are entirely conflicting and only send mixed signals to the international community.

"Phil Goff is trying to justify the contrast in our approach with that of Australia by saying that Australia may be privy to confidential information justifying the air strikes that New Zealand is not.

"If Australia is privy to confidential information that we are not, whose fault is that? New Zealand is now paying the price for our ambivalence and isolationism in the international arena.

"Mr Goff has some fast talking to do, not only in clarifying what Matt Robson 'meant to say' but in convincing other countries that our foreign policy is not muddled. The Government, both Labour and the Alliance, must say exactly whose side we are on.

"With Australia's Prime Minister due to visit New Zealand next week, the Government must get the differing views of its Foreign Affairs Ministers sorted out so we don't look like complete idiots on the international stage.

"As long as Saddam Hussein makes no guarantees or enters into any engagements regarding the production of weapons of mass destruction, the no-fly zones and sanctions must remain in force.

"This weekend's incident has been entirely consistent in dealing with Saddam Hussein's threats to allied aircraft," Mr Bradford said.

Ends

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