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Pence says US committed to Australian alliance

22 April 2017

Pence said Saturday that the USA would honor the agreement even if it didn't agree with it.

Immediately at issue is a call shortly after the inauguration between Trump and Australian leader Malcom Turnbull, during which the two disagreed about a refugee resettlement deal brokered under the Obama administration.

Watched on by Australia's ambassador to the US and the acting US Ambassador to Australia, Charge d A'ffaires James Carouso, Sir Peter Cosgrove told Mr Pence how the relationship can be traced back to the battlefields of World War I in France when General John Monash had two US regiments under his command at the battle of Hamel.

The fallout has left relations between the USA and Australia at their lowest point since the Vietnam War, when Australia's then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam criticized a series of bombings authorized by then-President Richard Nixon.

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

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Both Australia and the United States regard the asylum-seeker deal announced late a year ago - but subsequently subject to hostility from Mr Trump - as a "done deal" but it is possible Mr Pence will confirm this publicly during his visit.

Pence landed in Australia on Friday night, his latest stop on a 10-day tour through Asia. Australia has fought alongside the every major conflict since World War I, and is one of the largest contributors to the US -led military campaign in Iraq and Syria.

In exchange, Australia would take asylum seekers in the United States from El Salvador Guatemala and Honduras.

Pence and Turnbull said they were aligned in their opinion that China should use its leverage with North Korea to de-escalate the nuclear threat from Pyongyang.

The Foreign Ministry said that Indonesia and the United States under President Donald Trump are committed to building a strong partnership.

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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. Connelly says every senior United States official who visits Indonesia raises the issue of U.S. mining giant Freeport, which operates the world's largest gold mine in Papua and is now embroiled in a contract row with the Indonesian government.

On Monday, he will fly to Hawaii to conclude his ten-day official tour of the Asia-Pacific.

Earlier Mr Pence, his wife Karen and their daughters Charlotte and Audrey joined Mr Turnbull, wife Lucy, daughter Daisy and son-in-law James Brown, and their baby daughter Alice, for a relaxed morning tea at neighbouring Kirribilli House on Sydney Harbour.

The region was almost the fulcrum of a major worldwide trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has been scuttled by President Trump who said it was unfair to American workers.

Pence also used his trip to signal the administration's commitment to Southeast Asia by announcing that Trump would in fact attend the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam, ending months of speculation (See: "Why Trump Should Go to APEC and EAS in Vietnam and the Philippines").

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