POLITICS

No Hint Of Past Animosity As Turnbull And Trump Meet

Donald Trump was full of praise for Australia and its Prime Minister.

05/05/2017 10:13 AM AEST | Updated 05/05/2017 4:39 PM AEST

Donald Trump has welcomed "my friend from Australia" Malcolm Turnbull in New York, dismissing claims that the pair have a difficult relationship.

The President of the United States heaped praise upon his Australian counterpart, saying claims of earlier tensions over the refugee deal -- including that phone call -- were "a bit of fake news".

In February, the Washington Post reported that Trump eviscerated Turnbull in a phone call, before calling the swap a "dumb deal" on social media.

We have been allies for 99 years and never a bad time. It is a great, great thing."

"We had a great call. We're not babies," he told reporters in a brief press conference before co-hosting a gala dinner.

Trump told reporters on Thursday night (Friday morning AEST) that the United States has a "fantastic" relationship with Australia.

But then in his address later that evening, he admitted the call was "a bit testy".

"We had a very nice phone call. It got a little bit testy, but that is OK," he said.

The evening press conference was held aboard the decommissioned USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, where Trump and Turnbull both addressed a large crowd of dignitaries and military personnel to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

"I love Australia. I always have," Trump said.

"We have been allies for 99 years and never a bad time. It is a great, great thing."

A future visit by Trump to Australia was also hinted at, with the Prime Minister saying he would welcome the President to Australia.

"That will happen," Trump said of the prospective visit.

"One of the great, great places -- one of the most beautiful places on earth. I have so many friends there. I will be there absolutely."

Trump and Turnbull met before the dinner to discuss national security, trade and immigration, with North Korea's nuclear program and conflicts in the Middle East high on the agenda.

"We reaffirmed the tremendous friendship between the United States and Australia and the vital importance of our security and our alliance," Trump said of their talks.

"The armed forces of our two nations are operating side-by-side almost every day, fighting to defeat ISIS and the scourge of terrorism."

Malcolm Turnbull used his address at the gala dinner to condemn North Korea's "reckless provocation" in persisting with nuclear testing and to reaffirm the two nation's "shared political values" and joint military missions in Iraq.

"We fight together in Iraq and Afghanistan to defeat and to destroy the terrorists who threaten our way of life," he told the room.

Turnbull was met coming off the plane earlier on Thursday by Australia's U.S. Ambassador and former Coalition Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Trump had been scheduled to leave for New York City mid-afternoon for an extended meeting with Turnbull, but this was cancelled at the last minute so that Donald Trump could hold a press conference in Washington D.C. on the passing of the Obamacare repeal. Republicans narrowly passed the legislation by four votes on Thursday afternoon.

He had posted on Twitter earlier in the day that Republicans would have a press conference following the bill if it was successful.

Turnbull had a busy day in the Big Apple, despite the cancelled one-on-one with Donald Trump, with meetings on terrorism and global security.


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