VP Pence aims to reassure Australia after tense Trump call


SYDNEY — More than two months after President Donald Trump got into a spat with the leader of Australia, Vice President Mike Pence will be working to smooth over any lingering hard feelings.

Pence will meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday as part of his 10-day, four-country trip to Asia. His agenda includes reassuring Turnbull about the state of the unusually strained U.S.-Australia alliance and laying out the new administration’s priorities for the Pacific Rim.

“Partly, you could call it a diplomatic clean-up mission,” said Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute, an analyst on Asian security issues. Auslin said Pence will be more focused on offering Turnbull a roadmap for how the two countries can work together during Trump’s presidency. “It’s about re-establishing relations.”

The affection the longtime allies usually share for each other is rooted in decades of cooperation on defense, intelligence and trade. Australia has fought alongside the U.S. in every major conflict since World War I, and is one of the largest contributors to the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria. The country is also part of the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing program with the U.S., along with Canada, Britain and New Zealand.

But Australia was unhappy with Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Then, Trump and Turnbull had a contentious phone call in January over a refugee resettlement deal struck by the previous Obama administration.

Under the agreement, the U.S. would take up to 1,250 refugees that Australia houses in detention camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Trump, who campaigned on tough-on-immigration policies, was enraged by the agreement, prompting a tense phone call with Turnbull and an angry tweet in which the president dubbed the deal “dumb.”

White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s subsequent mispronunciation …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *