The US Ambassador to New Zealand has brushed off criticism Donald Trump’s meeting with the New Zealand Prime Minister was described by the White House as a “pull-aside.
The US President met with six leaders in New York this week – five of which were listed as “bilateral meetings”. Jacinda Ardern’s sit-down with the former reality TV star was the exception.
Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Ambassador Scott Brown used Trump-like language to describe it as a “great meeting”, possibly even a “superior, superior meeting”.
“Picture this – you’re expecting to have a meeting with the President,” he explained to host Simon Shepherd.
“So in comes the President; then in comes the Vice President; then in comes the Secretary of State; the new National Security Adviser; the President’s chief of staff; and other folks who work for the State Department… I’ve never seen that before, to have that type of contact. Not every country had that.
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“There was over 100 world leaders there, and six or seven countries had one-on-ones with the President. It was on purpose.”
He said as a Five Eyes espionage partner, New Zealand is “very important” to the US.
After the meeting, Ardern said Trump was very interested in New Zealand’s gun buyback, implemented in the wake of the horrific March terror attack in Christchurch. Mass shootings are commonplace in the US, but Trump’s Republican colleagues have repeatedly blocked efforts to restrict gun access.
Shepherd asked Brown why Trump would be interested in the gun buyback.
“Guns aren’t really a priority for the President, are they?”
“Why do you say that?” Brown responded. “Any time a person is killed in America or around the world – don’t forget he was one of the first ones to call the Prime Minister.
“I can tell you for a fact that my office immediately, within seconds, our FBI was working with your people to make sure – was there something else happening? Was there something else next?”
The main focus of the conversation between Trump and Ardern was free trade. New Zealand has been trying to get New Zealand off a list of countries whose steel faces tariffs, but Brown said the “big fish” of a free-trade agreement between the two countries would sort that out.
More talks are scheduled for October.
“It’s absolutely moving forward,” said Brown.
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