'We need a US President to be doing the right thing' - Andrew Little

During US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's flying visit to New Zealand on Tuesday, Prime Minister Bill English avoided any mention of covfefe, but Labour Leader Andrew Little was not so quiet.

Mr Little says after the usual pleasantries in his 25-minute meeting with Mr Tillerson he addressed many New Zealanders' "concern and disquiet about what they're seeing out of the White House".

"We actually need a US President to be doing the right thing around the world, and we have what I described as an idiosyncratic sort of President doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things, but causing a lot of upset and turmoil as a result, and it's just not good," he told The AM Show.

He says he told Mr Tillerson it was important for world affairs to have a US administration focused on peace and building international relations, "and those things that make the world a better place".

"I talked specifically about the withdrawal from the Paris Accord and said New Zealand is concerned about that, and we actually need the US to play a leadership role in institutions like that, because the issues are too big."

On Tuesday Mr Little criticised Mr English for not expressing concerns about Donald Trump's behaviour.

"I don't know what the Prime Minister is seeing and hearing from New Zealanders, every New Zealander I talk to expresses concern and sometimes alarm about the conduct of the US President."

Ahead of Mr Tillerson's visit, Mr English told Newshub: "We'll express our disagreement with the US policy position as we have on them withdrawing from the TPP, but the meeting will, I think, focus more on the ongoing relationship, our support for the US as a stabilising influence in the Asia Pacific and how we can both work to maintain that because its such a benefit to our economy and to the region.

"The pulling out of the Paris Accord is simply at its heart a President doing what he said he will do."

When asked about Mr Trump's tweets to Sadiq Khan, Mr Little had seen them and was surprised that the Prime Minister had not.

"I think they were clumsy and ham-fisted, he clearly misunderstood what Sadiq Khan had said. But that unfortunately can be said about many of Donald Trump's tweets, including his one about covfefe," Mr Little said.

Newshub.

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