Trump: Where did Mal go?

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - AN­NIKA SMETHURST BUENOS AIRES

IT’S the ques­tion Scott Mor­ri­son is un­will­ing to an­swer and now even Don­ald Trump wants to know: “Why is Mal­colm Turn­bull no longer the Prime Min­is­ter?”

The US Pres­i­dent quizzed Mr Mor­ri­son about the Au­gust lead­er­ship change yes­ter­day when the pair met for the first time at the G20 sum­mit in Ar­gentina. As the third Aus­tralia Prime Min­is­ter to at­tend the meet­ing of the 20 big­gest economies since 2014, Mr Mor­ri­son ad­mit­ted his coun­ter­parts had queried the Au­gust spill.

“They have their in­quiries,” he said. “We ran through what the events were.”

Ap­pear­ing to­gether af­ter a 25-minute pri­vate meet­ing, Mr Trump backed Mr Mor­ri­son’s prime min­is­ter­ship, claim­ing he got the top job be­cause he was will­ing to do what Aus­tralians wanted.

Mr Trump said he was an­tic­i­pat­ing hav­ing a “fan­tas­tic re­la­tion­ship” with Mr Mor­ri­son. “We are just get­ting to know each other,” he said. “So far, so good.

“I know you’ve done a very good job in a very short pe­riod of time. You’ve done a lot of things that they’ve wanted to be done, that’s why you’re sit­ting right here.”

Mr Mor­ri­son avoided dis­cussing with Mr Trump the con­tro­ver­sial plan to move Aus­tralia’s em­bassy in Is­rael from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the US has done. Mr Trump wel­comed the Gov­ern­ment’s re­view of the Iran nu­clear deal, from which the US has with­drawn. On day one of the meet­ing, Mr Mor­ri­son did his best to avoid Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man who faces ac­cu­sa­tions he or­dered the killing of jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi at the Saudi Ara­bian con­sulate in Is­tan­bul in Oc­to­ber. But the Crown Prince found a friend in Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin who high-fived and joked with him on the side­lines of the sum­mit.

Mr Mor­ri­son also met with French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron to dis­cuss the multi­bil­lion sub­ma­rine deal be­tween the two coun­tries.

“We are get­ting very close to fi­nal­is­ing that ar­range­ment,” Mr Mor­ri­son said.

He also sched­uled a meet­ing with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the EU to try to ad­vance postBrexit free-trade dis­cus­sions. Trade ten­sions have dom­i­nated talks be­tween global lead­ers on the first day of the sum­mit.

World lead­ers are ex­pected to try to en­cour­age the US and China to back down from their es­ca­lat­ing trade war, as fears mount that it could dam­age fi­nan­cial mar­kets.

Shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing in South Amer­ica, Mr Mor­ri­son said he came to the G20 as an op­ti­mist. “Aus­tralia has al­ways been a suc­cess­ful trad­ing na­tion and that’s how we’ll con­tinue to en­sure the pros­per­ity for our peo­ple,” he said.

HANDS UP IF YOU FEEL UN­COM­FORT­ABLE: Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son with, back from left, World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion di­rec­tor-gen­eral Te­dros Ad­hanom Ghe­breye­sus, Rwan­dan Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame, In­ter-Amer­i­can Devel­op­ment Bank pres­i­dent Luis Al­berto Moreno, Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man and front, Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and Brazil­ian Pres­i­dent Michel Te­mer at the G20 sun­mit in Ar­gentina yes­ter­day,

SHAKE IT OFF: Mr Mor­ri­son with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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