U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney, in an effort to improve relations after a highly publicized argument between U.S. President Donald Trump and the Australian leader.
The visit to Australia is the first by a senior Trump administration official as the United States looks to strengthen ties with Asian allies.
Pence sought to reassure Australia Saturday that the United States remains committed to the countries’ longtime alliance, following a tense first telephone call between Trump and Turnbull.
“I bring greetings this morning from the president of the United States,” Pence told Turnbull and other Australian officials ahead of their meeting. “I spoke to him first thing, and he wanted me to pass along his very best regards to you. And the president wanted me to, early in this administration, to reaffirm the strong and historical alliance between the United States and Australia.”
During Trump’s initial phone call with Turnbull, Trump criticized an Obama administration refugee resettlement deal with Australia that would bring refugees from Australia to the United States. He reportedly cut short the phone call and later tweeted that the deal was “dumb.”
During his visit to Australia, Pence is also scheduled to meet with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and the leader of the opposition party, Bill Shorten.
Pence is on a 10-day, four-country trip to Asia that has taken him to South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.