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Clark comments not forgiven & not easily forgotten

Hon Bill English MP National Party Leader

24 April 2003

Clark comments not forgiven and not easily forgotten

National Party Leader Bill English says he shares the concern of Kiwi businesses that fear they will pay a heavy price for Helen Clark's comments on the Iraq war.

"It's becoming increasingly obvious that those insulting remarks about the US President will be a long term set-back to New Zealand's efforts to win a free trade deal," says Mr English.

He's commenting in the wake of a newspaper poll of business leaders out today which shows near unanimous agreement that the trade relationship with the US had suffered a setback because of the Prime Minister's remarks.

"All but one respondent to the poll believes Helen Clark's position on Iraq has harmed our relationship with the United States.

"It's pretty clear the diplomatic blunder can't be smoothed over easily and what was once described as 'skilful diplomacy' is now looking pretty shabby.

"But still Helen Clark is refusing to offer a proper apology, despite what is in our national interest," says Mr English.

"As the newspaper survey shows, Kiwi businesses are bracing for turbulent times.

"Their assessment of the current business environment has dived into negative territory for the first time and their outlook for the next 12 months is only marginally better.

"With that as a back-drop - it has become even more critical for New Zealand's elected leader to repair the damage and make amends to the people she claims to represent," Mr English says.


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