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PM must also apologise to Australia

PM must also apologise to Australia

The Prime Minister must offer an apology to Australia now that she's conceded she made a serious diplomatic gaffe with the United States about the war on Iraq, says National Leader Bill English.

"If she thinks saying sorry to the United States for her anti-War comments is the end of the matter, she is wrong.

"Helen Clark owes an apology to Australia. Her comment that "this Government does not trade the lives of young New Zealanders for a war it does not believe in in order to secure some material advantage" is deeply insensitive to our close friend and ally whose people are worried about young Australians fighting in the Iraq War.

"The Prime Minister is way out of line suggesting that the reason John Howard is putting the lives of young Australians at risk is in order for Australia to get a free trade agreement.

"The Australian newspaper made this plain in an editorial this week - "The distinction between New Zealand and Australia, which has forces in Iraq and is negotiating an FTA with the US is obvious, odious and plain wrong."

Bill English says Helen Clark wouldn't have dared make her comment while John Howard was recently visiting New Zealand.

"It's clear there is growing anger across the Tasman about our Prime Minister undermining Australia's stance on the war on Iraq.

"Rather than take the Canadian Prime Minister's advice that "we should not say anything that would give Saddam Hussein comfort at this time," Helen Clark has chosen to air her views and alienate our traditional friends and allies.

"Obviously it is in New Zealand's best interests to have the closest possible relationship with Australia. We urge her to shore up that relationship with an apology before it is too late," says Bill English.

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