Govt would prefer ‘diplomatic option’ on Syria, says Kelvin Davis

The AM Show 17/04/2018

Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis has defended the Government's response to the US-led strike on Syria.

The US, France and the UK hit the Middle Eastern nation on Saturday (NZ time) in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack earlier this month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern neither explicitly supported nor condemned the show of force. A statement said she "accepts" but does not necessarily support the attack.

Mr Davis told The AM Show on Tuesday that the US's 2017 strikes didn't solve the problem.

"We do prefer a diplomatic option but it wasn't to happen in this case," he says.

"Those people who say that diplomacy doesn't work just need to remember that it was a year ago that missiles strikes were launched into Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons, and  a year later we're having to send in more missiles strikes."

Ms Ardern's statement has been criticised by National leader Simon Bridges, who says the Government's response to the strikes on Syria should have been stronger.

Mr Bridges says 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.

"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."

However, Mr Davis says Ms Ardern met with France's President Emmanuel Macron on Monday night, and he was "totally happy" with New Zealand's response to the missiles strikes.

"The Prime Minister's been strong and clear on it," he said.

"We do accept the UK, the US and French reasons for the missile strike."

Watch the full interview with Kelvin Davis above. 

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.