Jacinda Ardern-Donald Trump bilateral: PM won't say if women's rights to be raised

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will not say if women's rights will be raised when she and Donald Trump have their first formal bilateral meeting in New York. 

The Prime Minister said trade, as well as aluminium and steel tariffs imposed on New Zealand by the US, will be the main topics of discussion when she meets the US President. 

"My focus while I'm abroad is representing New Zealand's interests and when it comes to the United States, of course that includes our trading interests," Ardern said on Tuesday. 

"We still have aluminium and steel tariffs which I have raised with President Trump before, and I will be doing the same again."

Ardern would not say if she would raise women's rights with the President, despite participating in a march in downtown Auckland in early 2017 in the wake of Trump's inauguration.

"At the time I characterised that from my perspective about the importance of us continuing to focus on the gains that have been made and not being complacent about it," Ardern said. 

"I don't always set out every single element of the agenda that I discuss with leaders before I discuss with them, but I can certainly tell you trade will be on the agenda."

Ardern said her relationship with Trump is "absolutely fine" and said he has "always enabled me in the margins of phone calls to have a good, frank exchange of ideas and views". 

PM Jacinda Ardern taking questions in Parliament.
PM Jacinda Ardern taking questions in Parliament. Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

She announced her bilateral with the President will take place on Monday afternoon (New York time) next week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. 

"I'm looking forward to discussing a wide range of international and regional issues with President Trump, including our cooperation in the Pacific and the trade relationship between our countries."

Ardern hasn't shied away from speaking out against Trump. In July, she condemned a tweet he posted in which he said four American congresswomen should "go back" to the countries they "originally came from".

The US President was noticeably absent from Ardern's Christchurch Call summit in Paris in May. Not only was there no Trump - there was no presence from the US Government at all. 

The Prime Minister said she will "continue New Zealand's leadership on the Christchurch Call to Action to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online" while in New York. 

US President Donald Trump and PM Jacinda Ardern talking at the APEC Summit in Vietnam in 2017.
US President Donald Trump and PM Jacinda Ardern talking at the APEC Summit in Vietnam in 2017. Photo credit: Newshub

Trump and Ardern's past meetings

Ardern first met Trump in November 2017 at the APEC Summit in Vietnam. It was reported at the time he pointed at her and said: "This lady caused a lot of upset in her country", referring to the 2017 election. 

She reportedly retorted: "No one marched when I was elected."

Trump and Ardern also met at his exclusive party for heads of delegations on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last year. 

New Zealand two-way trade with the US is over $18 billion. Foreign Minister Winston Peters met with US Vice President Mike Pence in July where he pitched a free trade agreement.

Before she travels to New York, Ardern will depart on Wednesday for Japan. Her bilateral with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be their third. 

They met twice previously on the margins of international meetings, in 2017 and 2018, but this is the first visit to Japan by Ardern since the signing of the CPTPP.

It's the updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), signed by New Zealand, but which Trump pulled the US out of. 

The CPTPP gave New Zealand its first free trade agreement with Japan. 

Two-way trade with New Zealand is worth $8.8 billion a year.