POLITICS

Pence Talks Up 'Strong And Historical' Australia-US Alliance

The US Vice President has met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull

22/04/2017 10:30 AM AEST | Updated 22/04/2017 4:58 PM AEST
Jason Reed / Reuters
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meets with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at Admiralty House in Sydney.

US Vice President Mike Pence has reaffirmed America's commitment to Australia, saying the two countries have a "strong and historical alliance".

Pence touched down in Sydney on Friday night for a whirlwind visit during which he is expected to make security and trade a priority.

On Saturday morning, Pence thanked Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for a "warm welcome" to Australia.

"I bring greetings this morning from the President of the United States," Pence said at Admiralty House in Sydney.

"I spoke to him first thing and he wanted me to pass along his very best regards to you, and the President wanted me to, early in this administration, to re-affirm the strong and historical alliance between the United States and Australia.

"It is about a reaffirmation of the strong ties in both our security and our prosperity, and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to spend time with you."

Pence also said his family had been welcomed warmly Down Under.

"I bring you those good wishes from the President and the American people, and I look very much forward to our discussion today," the vice president added.

Turnbull said both nations shared "values, for freedom and democracy".

"That's what binds us together, that history and our commitment today when our alliance is more important than ever," the PM told the vice president.

Amid heightened security, Pence is expected to take a harbour cruise during his short visit on the weekend.

Addressing media, Pence paid special tribute to US and Australian soldiers who had fought together "shoulder to shoulder" in war.

"Sons and daughters of both of our lands have fought together in every major conflict for the past 100 years -- World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, and most recently the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

"That represents the foundations of an unshakeable bond between America and Australia."

Pence said there was also a need to use the US-Australia alliance to grow trade between the two nations and to work together to fight terror worldwide.

He also reassured Turnbull that the US would to honour the bilateral people-swap agreement, struck with the former Obama administration

The "deal" involves resettling refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to the United States. After his election win, Trump denounced the arrangement, sparking an infamous phone-call where Trump reportedly hung up on Prime Minister Turnbull.

When asked by journalists on Saturday afternoon, Pence said the Trump administration would go forward with the "deal" despite reservations.

"Let me make it clear, the US intends to honour the agreement subject to the results of the vetting processes now applied to all refugees considered for admission to the United States of America," he said.

"That doesn't mean we admire the agreement."

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