Martes, 19 Junio, 2018

United States will honour refugee deal Trump dubbed 'dumb', Pence tells Australia

The Latest VP Pence arrives in Australia last stop in Asia VP Pence aims to reassure Australia after tense Trump call
Eleena Tovar | 25 Abril, 2017, 18:42

Angry over Sydney's insistence that the Obama-era refugee deal stand, Trump hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in early February just 25 minutes into an hour-long scheduled conversation with the staunch US ally. Under the deal, the US would take in up to 1,250 asylum seekers that Australia holds in detention camps on the Pacific island countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

In return, Australia would resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The Turnbulls welcomed Pence, his wife and their two daughters for morning tea in Sydney, which allowed wife Karen to hold the prime minister's 8-month-old granddaughter, Alice. It apparently didn't go well.

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.

But it also raised questions of whether allies view Pence as speaking for Trump or whether his reassurances could easily be dismissed by one of the president's tweets.

U.S. vice president Mike Pence has said America will honour a refugee resettlement deal with Australia that Donald Trump once described as "dumb". He later said their conversation was "the worst call by far" of any he'd done with foreign leaders and took to Twitter to call the agreement a "dumb deal".

Pence said the decision to go ahead with the deal was in honour of the important historic alliance between the U.S. and Australia.

The U.S. vice president, who is the first senior official of the Trump administration to visit Australia, said "continuing on the path the world has been on with North Korea over the last 25 years is just unacceptable".

"That doesn't mean we admire the agreement", he said.

"It speaks volumes for the commitment, the integrity of President Trump", he said.

The United States' efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear and weapons programs dominated the trip, which put Pence in Asia shortly after Kim Jong Un's regime unsuccessfully launched a ballistic missile. Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, seated with Pence, said the relationship between the countries is as strong as it was since "the first time we saw each other on the battlefield in 1919".

Pence visited the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea earlier this week, and stressed the White House's desire to "marshal the support of our allies in the region" to confront the provocations.

Pence also met with the leader of an Australian opposition party.

Beyond the refugee deal, Pence and Turnbull said they had discussed issues including the North Korea crisis, the situation in the South China Sea and the strengthening of bilateral trade between the two countries.