Vice president Mike Pence has arrived in Sydney and succeeded in smoothing over a spat between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Donald Trump.
The famous spat occurred over the telephone shortly after Trump became president. Reports stated that Donald Trump confronted Turnbull over a deal between the U.S. and Australia which was created during the Obama presidency. The deal required the U.S. to take up to 1,250 refugees Australia presently houses in detention centers on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Trump and Turnbull had a tense phone call in January. Some reports even claimed that Donald Trump hung up on Prime Minister Turnbull.
Trump called the deal “dumb” in a tweet and asked why it even exists. He said he would examine it closely.
Now, Pence has arrived in Australia and assured the government that the U.S. will honor the deal, even if they don’t agree with it, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“President Trump has made it clear that we’ll honor the agreement — that doesn’t mean we admire the agreement,” Mike Pence said during a joint press conference with Turnbull.
A senior think tank official has interpreted this as a move towards a more conventional foreign policy for the Trump administration.
Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, said that the Trump government appears to be “feeling its way” towards a centrist, conventional position after receiving a lot of criticism for perceived extreme stances.
Fullilove said, “The Trump administration is moving beyond its disastrous start. It’s feeling its way towards a more orthodox foreign policy, but no one has forgotten that for three decades Donald Trump has held to a radical world view. Therefore Mr. Pence has been travelling abroad to show that there is someone more traditional in a crucial position.”
He told reporters that a superpower ought to be “predictable.”
“You expect superpowers to be predictable.”
Trump is unpopular in Australia, and some critics urged Turnbull to distance his country from the U.S. and focus on building stronger ties with China instead, reports ABC.
Mike Pence eased fears about a rift when he stood beside Turnbull and said, “It’s always heartening to stand beside a friend, and I do so today.”
Pence and Turnbull both spoke about the long-time friendship between Australia and America and their history of military cooperation.
Pence said, “I trust that my visit here today on my very first trip to the Asia Pacific as vice president of the United States and the president’s plans to travel to this region this fall are a strong sign of our enduring commitment to the historic alliance between the people of the United States of America and the people of Australia.”
Pence also met with Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, who said the relationship between Australia and the U.S. is as strong as it was since “the first time we saw each other on the battlefield in 1919” during World War I.
Cosgrove called the alliance an “unbreakable relationship.”
It’s not the only diplomatic relationship Trump has shaken up.
The Guardian reports that Trump shocked many when he took a phone call from Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in December. Many critics said that the move would anger the Chinese.
America severed ties with Taiwan in 1979 after Beijing pressured them to do so.
Beijing considers the island of Taiwan to be a breakaway province, not a separate sovereign nation.
“The U.S. closed its embassy in Taiwan – a democratically ruled island which Beijing considers a breakaway province – in the late 1970s…”
Chinese officials stated that they hoped Donald Trump’s controversial phone call would not affect Sino-American relations.
“China doesn’t want to see any disturbance [to U.S.-China relations].”
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]