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Dunne: Rebuild US, Aussie relationships

Dunne: Rebuild US, Aussie relationships

The Government needs to actively work on our relationships with both the United States and Australia in the fallout of today's crushing blow to hopes of a free trade agreement with the US, United Future leader Peter Dunne says.

And that must begin with Prime Minister Helen Clark, he said.

"Somewhere along the way, we've lost the ability to agree to disagree with our friends.

"And while it takes two to tango, the Government and the Prime Minister have to take a serious look at their footwork," Mr Dunne said.

"It's time to start rebuilding bridges now.

"Of course, we won't agree on everything, and New Zealand has every right to its own positions, but it is simply not necessary for every such difference to end in a diplomatic stand-off, as seems to have been the case recently," he said.

"The fact is that there were any number of countries who took a similar line to us over Iraq, but gratuitous comments threw us into the frontline of opposition to the United States. It was all so unnecessary, and ultimately, hugely damaging to this country's interests.

"It simply didn't need to be that way. And we've got to work on ways of making sure that we don't find ourselves in that kind of position in the future," he said.

In Parliament today, Mr Dunne questioned whether the Government could seriously believe that US farming opposition to this country's lamb and dairy sectors was behind the derailing of any chance of a free trade agreement, when Australia, with similar industries, was on the "brink of signing just such an agreement?"

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