Trump, Australia's Turnbull move to clear
air after tense phone call
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[May 05, 2017]
By Steve Holland
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald
Trump held his first-face-to-face meeting with Australian Prime Minister
Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday, and declared that they "get along great,"
following an acrimonious phone call in January that strained ties
between the two allies.
"They said we had a rough phone call. We didn't really have a rough
phone call," Trump said in dinner remarks. "It got a little bit testy.
But that's okay."
Dressed in tuxedos as they prepared to attend a dinner, the two leaders
met on board the USS Intrepid, a World War Two aircraft carrier that is
now a museum moored on Manhattan's West Side. Joined by their wives, the
two leaders later attended a gala to celebrate the 75th anniversary of
the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Turnbull was one of the first foreign leaders Trump spoke to after
taking office on Jan. 20. The Republican president became irritated that
he was expected to honor an agreement made by his Democratic
predecessor, Barack Obama, to accept as many as 1,250 refugees held in
Australian processing centers on remote Pacific islands.
Trump had broken off what was supposed to be an hour-long call after 25
minutes and later tweeted that the refugee agreement was a "dumb deal"
and vowed to study it. The call aroused criticism and raised questions
about his diplomatic skills.
Vice President Mike Pence visited Australia in April and made clear that
while Trump was not happy about the refugee agreement, the United States
would honor it out of respect for Australia. Under the agreement,
Australia is to resettle refugees from three Central American countries.
Thursday's get-together with Turnbull was delayed because of Trump's
hastily arranged White House celebration with Republicans from the U.S.
House of Representatives after they narrowly passed a healthcare bill
that would repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly
known as Obamacare. The measure has yet to come before the Senate/
Trump and Turnbull were all smiles as they answered questions about the
January phone call and the refugee deal during a picture-taking session.
"We get along great. We have a fantastic relationship, I love Australia,
I always have," Trump said.
Turnbull added: "We can put the refugee deal behind you and move on."
Trump said the refugee deal had been "worked out for a long time" and
that reporters had exaggerated the phone call.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump meets with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull ahead of an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the
Battle of the Coral Sea, aboard the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space
Museum in New York, U.S. May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
"We had a great call," he said, adding, "I mean, we're not babies."
"Young at heart," added Turnbull.
Trump vowed to visit Australia as president, calling it "one of the
great, great places" and noted he had many friends there. One such
friend, pro golfer Greg Norman, was among the attendees at the
In dinner remarks after their meeting, Turnbull celebrated the unity
of spirit that brought the two countries together against Japan in
World War Two, and said Australia and the United States are united
against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and are fighting
together in Afghanistan.
"Today and together, we condemn and we resist North Korea’s
provocation," he said.
It was Trump's first trip back to New York, his home and where he
made his name and fortune, since the former real estate executive
moved into the White House in January.
His motorcade passed hundreds of protesters as it arrived at the
Intrepid in the early evening. Trump did not plan to visit Trump
Tower, his home in midtown Manhattan where his wife, first lady
Melania Trump, and their young son Barron still live, but instead
was to spend the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie
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