Pence says US committed to Australian alliance

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has told Australia's prime minister that President Donald Trump sent him to Australia to reaffirm America's commitment to the U.S. -Australia alliance.

Pence's visit Down Under, part of his 10-day, four-country trip to the Pacific Rim, is widely viewed as an effort to smooth over relations with Australia. The anxieties were sparked by a spat between Turnbull and Trump over a refugee resettlement deal struck by former President Barack Obama.

The fallout has strained the typically cozy alliance between the USA and Australia.

He said Washington believed that a nuclear-free Korean peninsula could be achieved peacefully because of the Trump administration's new engagement with China.

Under the deal, the United States agreed to resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers held in offshore processing camps on South Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Turnbull and Pence both spoke of the two countries' long history of military cooperation.

"While all options are on the table, let me assure you the United States will continue to work closely with Australia, our other allies in the region and China to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime", he said. Australia has fought alongside the United States in every major conflict since World War I, and is one of the largest contributors to the US-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria.

According to pool reports, Pence said that the objective of the visit was "to reaffirm the strong historic alliance between the United States of America and Australia".

The deal would be honoured but not necessarily admired, visiting Vice-President Mike Pence said after talks with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull. He's performing important duties like meeting with Australia's prime minister, posing very seriously in a leather jacket at Korea's demilitarized zone and choosing mandatory in-flight entertainment for the press.

Washington Post, citing information from sources and unnamed USA officials, reported that Trump even told Turnbull at one point that he had already spoken with four other leaders that day and that theirs was "the worst call by far".

"The relationship between our two nations is as strong today as it has been since the first time we saw each other on the battlefield", the Governor-General said.

Mr Pence will meet Opposition Leader Bill Shorten later this afternoon before holding talks with business leaders.

While in Australia, Pence and his family will also meet some local wildlife at Sydney's zoo, take a harbor cruise and tour the world-famous Sydney Opera House.

The South China Sea, where China's territorial claims, land reclamation and construction have drawn criticism from its neighbors and the USA, is also likely to factor in talks between Pence and Turnbull.

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  • Leroy Wright