Trump downplays tense ties with Australian PM

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-05 16:09

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Thursday played down the strained ties between him and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the past and praised a "tremendous friendship" between the two countries.

"We had a good telephone call," said Trump after his first meeting with Turnbull in New York on the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Intrepid to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, referring to a reported acrimonious phone call back in January.

Later during a gala dinner, Trump acknowledged that the phone call was "a little bit testy."

"They said we had a rough phone call. We didn't really have a rough phone call," said Trump.

Trump spoke by phone with Turnbull shortly after taking office in January. However, the exchange soon reportedly went sour after Turnbull expressed expectation that Trump would honor an Obama-era deal with Australia to help resettle up to 1,250 refugees from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, who are housed in immigration camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The phone call, supposed to last for one hour, ended after 25 minutes and Trump told Turnbull that "this was the worst call by far," reports said.

After the call, Trump tweeted that the refugee resettlement deal was a "dumb deal."

However, during a trip to Australia in April, US Vice President Mike Pence said that the United States would "honor" the refugee deal.

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