Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull on President Trump: 'We Have a Very Frank Relationship'

Malcolm Turnbull made the comments in an interview with 60 Minutes Australia.

ByABC News
February 5, 2017, 6:39 AM

— -- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reiterated in a new interview that his phone call last week with Donald Trump was "frank and forthright," and he again denied reports that the president hung up on him.

"We have a very frank relationship," Turnbull told 60 Minutes Australia, in an interview that aired Sunday. "I've only said three things about the phone call with the president: Firstly, that it was frank and forthright. Secondly, that he gave a commitment that he would honor the refugee resettlement deal entered into by President Obama. And thirdly, that he did not hang up. The call ended courteously."

Turnbull emphasized the close relationship the two countries share. "The important thing is, we have a very long-standing alliance, which is in both in the interest of the United States and in the interest of Australia," he said. "I always stand my ground ... I defend my position, my nation's position. I've stood up for Australia and the President has given us a commitment to honor the deal entered into by his predecessor and we thank him for that commitment."

Turnbull downplayed the notion that U.S.-Australia relations have soured. "I don't think there has ever been more public support for Australia than there has been this week," he said. "We have seen dozens and dozens of congressmen and senators talking about the importance of the Australian alliance and talking about what a great friend we have always been to the United States. So this has been a very good week for Australia."

The Australian leader was asked by Nine Network's Laurie Oakes if he feels indebted to Trump because of the refugee deal. "What now if the Trump Administration comes to you and says we want troops for some Middle Eastern adventure or we want ships in the South China Sea, do you now see yourself as indebted? And does he see you as indebted?"

Turnbull responded, "We assess all requests for military assistance on their merits. And there is no linkage, no linkage at all between an arrangement relating to a refugee resettlement and any other matters."

ABC News' Christopher Donato contributed to this report.

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