Kevin Rudd is among a coalition of former leaders who have urged the US and China to settle their differences

The ongoing trade war between the US and China, with its associated decoupling of the two powerhouse economies, was a step in the direction of a new cold war, a coalition of former world leaders has warned.

Writing on behalf of the global leadership foundation in an opinion piece published in the New York Times overnight, former prime ministers Kevin Rudd of Australia, Helen Clark of New Zealand and Carl Bildt of Sweden have urged presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to end their trade dispute for the sake of the world at large.

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Read More Former world leaders warn US-China trade dispute could lead to new cold war

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