Jacinda Ardern doubles down on NZ's 'independent foreign policy'

Jacinda Ardern has reiterated her stance on New Zealand being free from influence, doubling down on her foreign policy stance which is in contrast to the US. 

The Prime Minister has returned from New York where she attended the United Nations last week. She used her first General Assembly speech to take aim at the Trump administration, without mentioning Donald Trump by name. 

New Zealand and the United States are close, says Ms Ardern, but New Zealand makes its own decisions. She told The AM Show New Zealand has "an independent foreign policy and we always will".

"We're always respectful regardless of whether we agree with others," she said. "But we have our view of whether or not we're in alignment on his [President Donald Trump's] current approach to foreign affairs."

In her speech to the UN General Assembly last week, Ms Ardern criticised the "false promises of protectionism", which was likely a dig at the United States' move towards tariffs and Mr Trump's constant threats to break trade agreements. 

"You can be proud of your country and still have an outward focus," she told The AM Show. 

Mr Trump's speech to the General Assembly was littered with anti-globalist rhetoric. He said his administration had "accomplished almost more than any other administration in the history of our country," drawing laughter from the crowd. 

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Ardern took the opportunity to meet with Mr Trump in New York to further New Zealand's chances of being exempt from the United States' aluminium and steel tariffs. Australia, Canada and Mexico have thus far been excluded. 

Ms Ardern met Mr Trump at his exclusive party for heads of delegations on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The Prime Minister said she praised the US President for his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June.  

"I used that opportunity during our quick meet and greet to acknowledge the work that had been going on around the Korean peninsula and also to raise the aluminium and steel tariffs... we are still working hard on that issue because it was important to us," she told The AM Show. 

Ms Ardern said regardless of whom is in office in the United States, there is a "certain way that we've always behaved on the world stage and certain values that we've always upheld. I'd like to think I continued those".

The Prime Minister took a risk in New York by voicing her opposition to the Trump administration's nationalist strategy, and openly campaigned for the removal of the UN Security Council veto, which she had previously called a "mockery". 

"We need to make sure the UN remains relevant, and that means being able to speak with one voice. The veto power has got in the way of that. We can't just rely on reform in that area though, because there are obvious blockages to that," she said in her speech. 

The Prime Minister also did not attend a US-sponsored event on the sidelines of the General Assembly, the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem, and said New Zealand would not be signing up to its call for tougher action on illicit substances.