Pence aims to reassure Australia after tense Trump call
SYDNEY — More than two months after President Trump got into a spat with the leader of Australia, Vice President Mike Pence will be working to smooth over any lingering hard feelings.
Pence will meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia on Saturday as part of his 10-day, four-country trip to Asia. His agenda includes reassuring Turnbull about the state of the unusually strained US-Australia alliance and laying out the new administration’s priorities for the Pacific Rim.
‘‘Partly, you could call it a diplomatic clean-up mission,’’ said Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute, an analyst on Asian security issues. Auslin said Pence will be more focused on offering Turnbull a roadmap for how the two countries can work together during Trump’s presidency. ‘‘It’s about reestablishing relations.’’
The affection the longtime allies usually share for each other is rooted in decades of cooperation on defense, intelligence, and trade. 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.
But Australia was unhappy with Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Then, Trump and Turnbull had a contentious phone call in January over a refugee resettlement deal struck by the Obama administration.