The Herald reports:
If Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull got Grumpy Trump, English got “friendly, warm, thoughtful” Trump and even an invite to the White House “if you’re passing by.”
English has given more detail on his phone call with the US President Donald Trump, describing Trump as “warm, civil and very thoughtful” during a call which ranged from immigration bans to the Super Bowl.
He said the call, which he took from the roadside on Auckland’s waterfront in between Waitangi Day fixtures, was “a warm and friendly conversation.”
English said Trump had even extended an invitation to the White House – although it was not in the usual diplomatic fashion.
“He has a more casual attitude to diplomatic relationships than is usual, but he conveyed his enthusiasm for meeting at some stage in the White House … ‘well, if you’re passing by’.”
Despite the warm offer, English said he was unlikely to get there before the September election. “I’d imagine it will take some time for the new administration to bed in, and then we’ve got the election campaign. I wouldn’t anticipate getting there this side of the election.”
He said Trump appeared to be positive about the relationship with New Zealand. “He thinks it’s a fantastic place. He likes the idea we are a long way away so therefore we aren’t under the same pressures as everybody else.”
They talked about Trump’s attempt to ban citizens from seven countries entering the US – an Executive Order which has been suspended by the US courts.
English told Trump he disagreed with the action and it was not something New Zealand had done. “He just noted our views. I don’t think that he was surprised by people having a different view.”
The pair also discussed the different ways they dealt with border security.
“The discussion focussed on what steps we take and the US takes to as a way of protecting our citizens from high-risk people coming in, which is clearly at the top of his agenda.”
Normally such a call would be routine and of little news interest. But after the Australian call, there was a lot if interest as to how this call would go.