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Sutton at odds with PM on defence and trade

Sutton at odds with PM on defence and trade

Trade Minister Jim Sutton’s almost hysterical comments about US ‘arm-twisting’ over the war with Iraq, highlight confusion and disarray in the Government’s attitude to the UN and America, according to the National Party.

“The Government has always said it would support a UN mandated action against Iraq,“ says National Party Leader Bill English.

“Mr Sutton’s comments are a rude rebuff to genuine US efforts to build an international coalition through the Security Council, “ he says.

“What can possibly be in the head of a senior ranked Government Minister who wants New Zealand to shoot down diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iraqi situation?

“On top of that Mr Sutton’s completely contradicted Prime Minister Helen Clark, who has repeatedly stated in Parliament that she believes defence and trade are in separate boxes,” says Mr English.

“It’s now clear from Mr Sutton’s comments that ‘arm-twisting’ is taking place and if so that raises serious questions.

“What sort of ‘arm twisting’ is New Zealand being subjected to?

“Mr Sutton’s comments must mean New Zealand is coming under pressure, as it puts the case for a free trade deal with the US.

“The Trade Minister’s in a perfect position to know what’s happening behind the scenes and now he needs to tell us,” Mr English says.

“The circumstances of the Kiwi deployment to the Gulf also take on a new light in the wake of these remarks.

“Mr Sutton’s the third New Zealander involved in international negotiations to contradict Helen Clark’s view,” observes Mr English.

“His comments follow statements by Dr Michael Cullen last year and Mike Moore just last week.

“The public now deserves to know just what Government policy is when it’s representing New Zealand’s interests in trade and defence with traditional allies,” Mr English concludes.

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