October 15, 2003 – 10:16 am
The United States’ president, George W Bush, has played down suggestions of a rift with New Zealand over the country’s anti-nuclear laws.
Our New Zealand correspondent, Gillian Bradford, reports last week the US ambassador to New Zealand, Charles Swindells, said Washington ‘would not get over’ Wellington’s refusal to budge on the laws, which ban visits by nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships.
In the same speech Mr Swindells made it clear the anti-nuclear policy had ‘costs’ and the US was not ready to discuss a free trade deal with New Zealand.
However, President Bush says there is no reason trade negotiations might not happen in the future.
‘We haven’t gotten started with New Zealand,’ the president said.
‘The nuclear policy obviously makes it difficult for us to have a military alliance, but we’re friends with the New Zealanders. We respect the New Zealand people.’
(Oh good… he said the same thing about respecting the Iraqi people. Maybe he’ll “liberate” us as well… He hasn’t gotten started with us yet – but when he does, look out.)