11 Jul 2018

NZ's Don McKinnon signs letter urging Donald Trump to back allies

10:07 am on 11 July 2018

Former foreign ministers and secretaries of state, including New Zealand's Sir Don McKinnon have written to US President Donald Trump warning him about his "deteriorating relationship" with his allies.

Sir Don McKinnon delivers his lecture  'Dark Clouds Over Democracy' as part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Lecture series, in Wellington, 2 May 2017.

Sir Don McKinnon (file photo) is a foreign minister and deputy prime minister of New Zealand and former secretary-general of the Commonwealth. Photo: Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (NZ)

The letter was sent to Mr Trump before he left for a trip to Europe where he's expected to have tense talks with the leaders of NATO member nations.

Mr Trump has accused NATO countries of underfunding the security alliance and unfair trade with the US.

The letter from 16 former foreign ministers, including former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says "we are gravely concerned about the deteriorating relationship between the United States and its Western allies".

It urges Mr Trump to "reverse this dangerous trend."

The letter says threats to security and prosperity are multiplying.

"We believe that the best answer to these challenges is a cooperative and productive partnership between the United States, Canada and Europe.

"This week, you can move beyond recent signs of acrimony and reaffirm the health and common purpose of the Atlantic alliance. We urge you to seize this opportunity."

Ms Albright, who was secretary of state during the Clinton administration, told the Politico news site that the mood in Europe was one of "both fear and confusion".

"It's been a very, very long time that I have seen such concern about what is going on and trying to read where the United States is", she was quoted as saying.