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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020

Trump reportedly tore into Australian PM over 'dumb' refugee deal

Another report says he threatened to invade Mexico.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Image: AP Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump ripped into his Australian counterpart during their call last week, The Washington Post reports, castigating a refugee accord he described as a “dumb deal.”

The new US leader reportedly abruptly cut short his call with Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull after criticising the agreement to re-home people and exulting over his electoral college victory in the November poll, according to the paper.

Australia is considered one of the United States’ closest allies — one of the so-called “Five Eyes” with which the US routinely shares sensitive intelligence — and one might have expected the call to be smooth sailing.

But, according to the Post, Trump’s assessment was the opposite.

Of his four conversations with world leaders that day “This was the worst call by far,” it cited him as telling Turnbull, shortly before he terminated the telephone meeting.

Turnbull demurred when asked about the report.

“I appreciate your interest, but it’s better that these things — these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” he said.

“I can assure you the relationship is very strong.”

Differing accounts

Peru APEC Summit Malcolm Turnbull Source: Ricardo Mazalan/AP

The Post’s account of the conversation is markedly different from the official read-out of the call provided by both governments.

Turnbull said on Monday that Trump had agreed to honour the deal struck with then-President Barack Obama to resettle an unspecified number of the 1,600 people Australia holds in offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Canberra has come under fire from rights groups and the United Nations for its treatment of people seeking to arrive by boat, many from war-torn areas.

The government puts such boatpeople in offshore detention camps and blocks their resettlement in Australia, even if found to be refugees.

There were fears the new US president would rescind it after he signed an executive order last week to suspend the arrival of refugees to the US for a least 120 days, and bar entry for three months to people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

After the Post story broke late last night, Trump weighed in on Twitter and threw the agreement into doubt.

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Reports of the Turnbull-Trump conversation came as the US and Mexican governments were denying claims that the former reality TV star had threatened to send troops into Mexico to deal with drug cartels.

Mexican journalist Dolia Estevez, citing “confidential” US and Mexican sources, said Trump made the threat during an hour-long phone call with President Enrique Pena Nieto on Friday.

Mexican and White House officials vehemently denied the report.

Relations have plunged into the biggest diplomatic crisis between the two neighbours in decades.

© – AFP 2017

Read: The United States has just put Iran ‘on notice’

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