You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

PM's priority to maintain US relationship

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/01/2017

Prime Minister Bill English will tell US President Donald Trump that he disagrees with his immigration policy but says his priority is to maintain a strong relationship with the US.

Mr English has been criticised for not being stronger in his opposition to Mr Trump's ban on people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen entering the US for 90 days.

The pair are expected to have their first phone call since Mr Trump's inauguration some time in the coming days.

It's not known exactly when it might take place, with Mr English describing the scheduling process as "unpredictable".

He says the powerful US economy and its importance to security and stability across the Asia-Pacific will be raised.

"I'd imagine we'd be discussing those issues and views on policies that affect New Zealanders," he said.

On whether he'd criticise Mr Trump's controversial ban and decision to suspend the US refugee programme for 120 days, as well as an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, Mr English said he would represent his view as he's already publicly stated it.

"And that is that we disagree with the policy, but in the long run we need a positive relationship with the US," he said.

"(Trump) makes his policy. I wouldn't expect him to be commenting on New Zealand policy in any detail so that's all just part of the discussion."

Mr English said there had been a long history of Kiwis disagreeing with US policy but as a small country it was important to have a strong relationship with America.

It's not known if Mr English will raise the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the phone call, but it's believed the topic did not come up when Mr Trump spoke to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Details of the half-hour call remain sketchy but Mr Turnbull has revealed terrorism and border protection topped the agenda.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon