U.S. to honour 'dumb' refugee deal with Australia

Vice President Pence on Friday underscored the "historic alliance" between USA and Australia during his meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Vice President Pence said Saturday that the USA will honor an agreement with Australia to take in as many as 1,250 refuges, even though President Trump called it a "dumb" deal from the Obama era.

In return, Australia would resettle refugees from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, according to Reuters news agency, as part of a US-led program in Central America.

"We will honour this agreement out of respect to this enormously important alliance", Pence, who is now on a visit to Sydney, said on Saturday (22 April).

A phone call between the U.S. and Australian leaders in January turned contentious after Turnbull pressed Trump to honor the agreement and accept hundreds of refugees from an Australian detention center.

Under the deal signed in late 2016, the White House had agreed that Australia would send to the USA refugees from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq who arrive at its offshore processing centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

"As the Prime Minister and I discussed, together our nations will continue to uphold a rules-based system that is the foundation of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific", he said of Australia-US security ties. The United States, which has said all options are on the table to deal with North Korea, believes there is peaceful solution with the help of China, Pence said.

Mr Turnbull acknowledged Trump's reluctance, but said the US commitment was a measure of Trump's new USA administration.

"W$3 e are very honored that you are here so early in the term of your new Trump administration, the earliest visit by a Vice President in the term of a new administration in history", the prime minister said.

His agenda includes reassuring Turnbull about the state of the unusually strained U.S. -Australia alliance and laying out the new administration's priorities for the Pacific Rim.

A majority of Australians view Trump unfavorably, and some critics of him have urged Australia to distance itself from the United States in favor of stronger ties with China.

Ms McKay told Mr Pence the reptiles can grow as large as four metres in length.

Mr Pence said the TPP was a "thing of the past" for the US.

As police helicopters hovered overhead, Mr Pence mingled on the perfectly manicured harbourside lawn with the likes of Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Telstra chairman John Mullen, the Australian Ballet's artistic director David McAllister and indigenous elder Uncle Vic Simms as they sipped champagne and nibbled on canapes.

Mr Pence said his wife had enjoyed spending time with Mr Turnbull's grandchildren.

Pence landed in Australia late on Friday, his fourth stop on a 10-day tour of USA allies in the Asia-Pacific region that has included a series of roundtables with business executives in South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia.

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.

Turnbull told reporters that North Korea's "reckless and risky regime puts the peace and stability of our region at risk".

In February, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in the nation's capital, Canberra, where the two announced they would cooperate more on trade, tourism, regional infrastructure, innovation and energy.

But that did not mean "we admire the agreement", the Vice-President added.

  • Leroy Wright