The White House says President Trump is ‘extremely upset’ with the ‘poorly-crafted’ refugee deal with Australia.
Donald Trump on Friday praised Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for telling the ‘truth’ about their ‘civil’ conversation on the bilateral refugee deal, a day after the United States President described the Obama-era agreement as a ‘dumb deal’.
Trump called their conversation ‘very civil’ in a tweet, adding that ‘fake news’ media had lied about details of the exchange during their first telephonic talk held last Saturday.
‘Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!’ Trump tweeted.
The US-Australia deal to take 1,250 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru was brokered in the closing weeks of the Obama administration.
Many of the refugees are from the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by Trump’s recent travel ban.
Details of a tense phone conversation with Turnbull, which Trump reportedly described as ‘the worst by far’, were published by the Washington Post on Thursday.
Trump reportedly accused Turnbull of seeking to export the ‘next Boston bombers’ to the US, and complained that the deal was going to kill him politically.
Trump followed up the conversation with a tweet in which he railed against the ‘dumb deal’.
“Look, I’m not going to comment on a conversation between myself and the President of the United States other than what we have said publicly, and you can surely understand the reasons for that,” the Australian prime minister had said on Thursday.
Turnbull also said he was disappointed the details of the call — which he described as ‘very frank and forthright’ — had been leaked.
Overnight, Trump slightly moderated his language, telling a Washington event that: “I have a lot of respect for Australia, I love Australia as a country — but we have a problem”.
He urged people not to ‘worry’ about the ‘tough’ phone calls he was having with world leaders.
“A lot of countries are taking advantage of us. Terribly taking advantage of us,” he said.
Australia’s Ambassador in Washington Joe Hockey met top Trump adviser Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus at the White House on Thursday amid ongoing discussions over the agreement.
Earlier, the White House had said that President Trump is ‘extremely upset’ with the ‘poorly-crafted’ refugee deal with Australia but will go ahead with the agreement by enforcing ‘extreme vetting’ of each of the 1,250 refugees to ensure that they do not pose a threat to the US.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lashed out at the Obama-administration for the refugee agreement with Australia, saying the new president was ‘unbelievably disappointed’ to have inherited the deal.
Spicer, however, said Trump ‘had a very cordial conversation’ with the Australian prime minister.
“The President is unbelievably disappointed in the previous administration’s deal that was made and how poorly it was crafted and the threat it put on US national security,” said Spicer.
“He (Trump) has tremendous respect for the Prime Minister and the Australian people and has agreed to continue to review that deal and to ensure that as part of the deal, was always part of it, that we would go through a very, very extreme vetting process to ensure that every single person that is being offered up is coming here with peaceful intentions and poses no threat to the United States,” he said.
“So he has ensured that while he has respect for the Australian people and respect for PM Turnbull, that we do not pose a threat to the US, that the deal that he was cut by the last administration is something that he is extremely, extremely upset with. He does not like it,” Spicer said.