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No Progress With Free Trade

27 March 2002

Helen Clark's meeting with United States President George Bush was a carefully choreographed affair that was high on courtesy and platitude but delivered little in real substance, says National Party Leader Bill English.

"While it was good to see yet again another New Zealand Prime Minister meet with an American President many people, especially our exporters will be disappointed no movement took place at all on free trade.

"All Helen Clark is saying on free trade is that she asked the President that we get in the queue .I thought we were already in the queue and hoped to move up. If there had been any progress we would be hearing all about it.

" I am personally sorry also to hear that during her visit to the Pentagon and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff she complained about my recent visit to America and the access given to me by US Defence staff.

"Defence is an important issue for New Zealand and while in the United States I met with key Defence people so I could be brought right up to date with their latest thinking on a wide range of issues that do matter to us.

" On an historic note it is interesting that the meeting between Clark and President Bush went for just 30 minutes. When a former Labour Prime Minister Peter Fraser met with President Roosevelt it went for 70 minutes," says Bill English.


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