NZ should support US-led strikes on Syria, UN is useless - Simon Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges says the Government's response to the strikes on Syria should have been stronger.

The US, France and the UK hit targets in the war-torn nation on Saturday (NZ time) in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma earlier this month.

While the Greens condemned the strikes, the Government said it "accepts why" the Western powers took action without going to the United Nations.

"The Government has always favoured diplomatic efforts and a multilateral approach - the use of the veto powers at the Security Council prevented that course of action," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Mr Bridges said we should have taken a similar line to Canada and Australia, which both expressed support for the strikes, which aren't believed to have resulted in any civilian casualties.

"I think it could be a bit stronger - these words do matter in foreign affairs," he told The AM Show on Monday morning.

"They're saying they 'accept' what's happened. Actually if you look at what Australia's said, Turnbull, actually Trudeau, one of our best mates, they've all said they support, they strongly support. It's good, I think we all agree chemical attacks on your own people is disgusting."

He stopped short of saying he'd offer to put Kiwi troops on the ground if the US requested it.

"I think the honest truth is I just don't know."

New Zealand has long campaigned for an end to the veto at the UN Security Council. It allows the five permanent members - the US, UK, France, China and Russia - to nix resolutions they don't agree with.

Mr Bridges said the UN is "useless on most things" because of the veto.

"I suppose that's the way it is when you're trying to get every country, or certainly those big countries, to sign up. You also feel the hand of Russia in all of this, and we know that our Government's had a pretty weird response on that. I do think in the aftermath of all those things... they should have taken a bit of a stronger position."

Donald Trump
A poster of US President Donald Trump is set on fire during a protest against western air strikes on Syria, in Crimea. Photo credit: Reuters

The Government has been seeking a free trade agreement with Russia. Foreign Minister Winston Peters recently told Newshub Nation there was no evidence Vladimir Putin's regime was involved in US election meddling or the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

International investigations have determined Russia had a big hand in both.