Trump Slams ‘Dumb Deal’ With Ally Australia After Testy Call
Blasts a refugee resettlement deal with Australia in a late-night tweet, throwing the fate of more than 1,000 displaced people into doubt
Washington: President Donald Trump blasted a refugee resettlement deal with Australia in a latenight tweet, throwing the fate of more than 1,000 displaced people and the US’s relationship with a key ally into doubt.
“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!,” Trump tweeted. The resettlement plan involves sending refugees being held by Australia in offshore camps, many of them from the Middle East or South Asia, onto the US. The message came after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended his relationship with Australia’s biggest ally in the wake of a Washington Post report that Trump berated him over the deal. Trump “abruptly ended” a phone call with the Australian leader on January 28 after 25 minutes eventhoughtheyhadbeenscheduled to speak for an hour, the paper said. It cited unidentified US officials who were briefed about the conversation. During the call, Trump labelled the resettlement plan “the worst deal ever,” the paper reported. The president told Turnbull he had spoken to four other global leaders t h at d ay, i nc lud i n g Russi a n President Vladimir Putin, and “this was the worst call by far,” it said.
In a radio interview on Thursday after Trump’s tweet, Turnbull said he still expects the deal will go ahead. Headdedhewas“verydisappointed” over the leak and said the call with Trump ended “courteously.”
“The question is, will he commit to honor the deal, and he has given that commitment,” Turnbull said. The call with the president was “very frank and forthright,” he said, declining to give further details. Earlier in the day when asked about the Washington Post report, Turnbull described Australia’s relationship with the U.S. as “very strong.” White House spokesman Sean Spicer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Since taking office nearly two weeks ago, Trump and his senior officials have lashed out at several leaders, criticising Japan, Germany and China for their trade and currency policies and signaling a more disruptive approach to America’s relationships — even if a country is a long-term ally. LateWednesday,aMexicopresidential spokesman denied Trump told President Pena Nieto over the phone hemightsendUStroopsintoMexico, and said there was no threatening tone on the call.