US 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 20 January. The Republican president became irritated that he was expected to honour an agreement made by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, to accept as many as 1,250 refugees held in Australian processing centres 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 honour 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 US 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.
“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 Intrepid dinner.
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 programmes and are fighting together in Afghanistan.
“Today and together, we condemn and we resist North Korea's provocation,” he said.
Donald Trump's first 100 days: in cartoons
Donald Trump's first 100 days: in cartoons
Donald Trump's first 100 days in office were marred by a string of scandals, many of which caught the eye of the Independent's cartoonists
Trump's first 100 days have seen him aggressively ramp up tensions with his nuclear rivals in North Korea
Mr Trump has warned of a "major, major conflict" with the pariah nation lead by Kim Jong Un
Mr Trump dropped the "mother of all bombs" on alleged ISIS-linked militants in Afghanistan, amid an escalation of US military intervention around the globe
Mr Trump has been accused of falling short of the standards set by his predecessors in the Oval Office, including Franklin D Roosevelt
The tycoon's ascension to the White House came at a time when the balance of power is shifting away from Western nations like those in the G7 group
Western politicians, including the British Conservative party, have been accused of falling in line behind Mr Trump's proposals
Brexit is seen to have weakened Britain, reducing still further any political will to resist American leadership
Mr Trump's leadership has been marked by sudden and unexpected shifts in global policy
Trump's controversial missile strike on Syria, which killed several citizens, was seen by some analysts as an attempt to distract from his policy elsewhere
The President has also spent a large majority of his weekends golfing, rather than attending to matters of state
Though free of gaffes, a visit from Chinese president Xi Jinping spotlighted trade tensions between the two states
One major and unexpected setback came when Mr Trump's Healthcare Bill was struck down by members of his own party
Mr Trump has been a figure of fun in the media, with his approval at record lows
A string of revelations about Mr Trump's financial indiscretions did not mar his surge to the White House
Outgoing President Barack Obama was accused of wiretapping Trump Tower by his successor in America's highest office
The alleged involvement of Russian intelligence operatives in securing Mr Trump the presidency prompted harsh criticism
The explosive resignation of Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who lied about his links to the Russian ambassador, was just one scandal to hit the President
Many scandals, such as the accusation Barack Obama was implicated in phone-hacking, first broke on Mr Trump's Twitter feed
Donald Trump's election provoked mass protests in the UK, with millions signing a petition to ban him from the country
Donald Trump cited a non-existent terror attack in Sweden during a campaign rally
Donald Trump stands accused of stoking regional tensions in Eastern Asia
North Korea has launched a number of failed nuclear tests since Mr Trump took power
Theresa May formally rejected the petition calling for Mr Trump to be banned from the UK
When Mr Trump's initial so-called Muslim ban was struck down by a federal justice, the President mocked the 69-year-old as a "ridiculous", "so-called judge"
A week after his inauguration, Theresa May met with Mr Trump at the White House
Donald Trump's first days in office were marked by a hasty attempt to follow through on many of his campaign promises, including the so-called Muslim ban
Donald Trump's decision to ban citizens of many majority-Muslim countries from the US sparked mass protests
Revelations about Donald Trump's sexual improprieties were not enough to keep him from being elected President
British PM Theresa May was criticised by many in the press for cosying up to the new President
One of Mr Trump's top aides, Kelly Anne Conway, was mocked for describing mistruths as "alternative facts"
British PM Theresa May was quick to demonstrate that her political aims did not hugely differ from Mr Trump's
Donald Trump's inauguration, on 20 January 2017, sparked protests both at home and abroad
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 Jersey.
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