Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Pence reaffirms US-Australia alliance after Trump spat

Ellis Copeland | 27 April, 2017, 02:32

The fallout over the deal has strained the typically cozy alliance between the US and Australia.

Vice-president Mike Pence has said the agreement to resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers, which was made by the Obama administration, is being fulfilled "out of respect to the extremely important alliance" between the USA and Australia.

United States supercarrier Carl Vinson is to arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, Pence said.

Trump reportedly exploded and cut short the telephone call when he was told about a deal to move some refugees from Pacific island camps to America.

Australia is one of Washington's staunchest allies and has sent troops to fight alongside the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Turnbull thanked Pence, saying his assurance shows the "integrity" of Trump and his administration.

Pence is on a 10-day, four country trip that has already included visits to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.

"We will honour this agreement out of respect to this enormously important alliance", Pence said at Turnbull's harbourside official residence in Sydney.

In Sydney on Saturday he stood alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to step up calls on China to do more to pressure North Korea into dumping its nuclear and ballistic missile program.

On Sunday, he is scheduled to visit Sydney with his wife and two children.

The vice president made the commitment - subject to the refugees passing stringent USA vetting procedures - at a joint news conference in Sydney with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with whom Pres. Trump reportedly had a testy first call because of the refugee issue.

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Mr Pence, who is now in Australia, has already successfully repaired the damage done to the ties between the two nations, when President Trump and the Australian prime minister publicly fell out.

Australia had come under global pressure for continuing to operate two refugee camps off its shores on the island nation of Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The U.S.is also grateful for Australia's demands for China to play an increasingly active and constructive role, Pence said.

Pence's advisers say the differences with Trump amount to style over substance.

In February, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in the nation's capital, Canberra, where the two announced they would co-operate more on trade, tourism, regional infrastructure, innovation and energy.

Turnbull said China could use its economic leverage to force North Korea into compliance.

Pence said the USA believes that it will be possible to achieve its objective of ending North Korea's nuclear program peacefully, largely with the help of China.

Pence and his family will take a boat cruise in Sydney Harbour and tour the Sydney Opera House later in the day.

Turnbull continued to give a speech highlighting the history of the US/Australian alliance since World War I, and emphasizing the cause of "freedom", and emphasizing Australia's loyalty.

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