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Mine clearers too little too late

Mine clearers too little too late

The Government's contribution of mine clearers is too little too late to repair its damaged relationship with the United States, says National Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Dr Wayne Mapp.

"The Government's belated offer of assistance has come far too late to repair the very real damage that Helen Clark has wrought on New Zealand's international relations with our traditional allies.

"While the mine clearers will obviously perform a valuable task, New Zealand could have done a lot more as part of the coalition of the willing. Even now the Government seems determined that any contribution can only be through the United Nations.

"If the Government was serious about playing its part then we needed to be making a much more serious offer to assist in the reconstruction of Iraq. It should be offering peacekeepers, military engineers and a military medical team.

"And in order for New Zealand's offer to be meaningful, it should be made to the coalition of the willing as well as the United Nations (UN).

"The Government is deluding itself if it believes this contribution of mine clearers to the UN will make up for the appalling gaffe by Helen Clark in damaging relations with the United States.

"This gaffe is widely interpreted as being the most damaging action by the Prime Minister in the four years she has held office. Even now she has yet to accept what she said was wrong and is unwilling to take the steps that will repair the damage," Dr Mapp said.

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