Pence to talk trade, security and koalas during Australian visit


UPDATE 1-Pence to talk trade, security and koalas during Australian visit

(Adds comments from White House foreign policy adviser)
    By Jane Wardell and Roberta RamptonSYDNEY, April 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence
is expected to discuss trade and regional security when he meets
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday,
Australian and U.S. officials said.
    Pence landed in Australia late on Friday, his fourth stop on
a 10-day tour of U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region that has
included a series of roundtables with business executives in
South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. [nL3N1HT1OQ]
    His trip to Australia is the first by a senior official in
President Donald Trump's administration as the United States
looks to strengthen economic ties and security cooperation amid
disputes in the South China Sea and tension on the Korean
    Pence will emphasize the long-term partnership between the
two countries on defense and the economy, even as Australia eyes
the merits of developing a closer relationship with China, a
White House foreign policy adviser said.
    "We're the number two in the economy in this sense," the
adviser told reporters traveling with Pence. "Obviously they
lead with China. They are in the region, proximity matters to
    An official in Turnbull's office noted Pence has already met
and spoken by phone with several ministers about the Trump
administration's commitment to the bilateral relationship.
    "The prime minister will enjoy the chance to talk about
opportunities for building on that partnership," said the
official, who asked not to be identified.
    Australia's relationship with the new administration in
Washington got off to a rocky start when Trump lambasted
Turnbull over a refugee resettlement arrangement that Trump
labeled a "dumb" deal. [nL4N1FN0ZK]
    Details of an acrimonious phone call between the pair soon
after Trump took office made headlines around the world.

    It is unclear whether that deal, agreed with former
President Barack Obama, will be discussed on Saturday.
    "I really do think it's ancient history," the White House
foreign policy adviser told reporters, noting Pence had
discussed the deal with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
earlier this year.
    Under the deal, the United States agreed to resettle up to
1,250 asylum seekers held in offshore processing camps on South
Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
    In return, Australia would resettle refugees from El
Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
    The deal has taken on added importance for Australia, which
is under political and legal pressure to shut the camps,
particularly one on Papua New Guinea'sManus Island where
violence between residents and inmates has flared. [nL3N1HN01L]
    Pence will also meet Australian business executives in
Sydney on Saturday, following similar meetings in Seoul, Tokyo,
and Jakarta that have been thick with executives from Fortune
100 companies.
    His message at each of those stops was to reassure political
and business leaders that Trump's "America First" policy meant
that the United States was open to foreign investment, and that
his administration wanted to work with business leaders to knock
down barriers for U.S. products.
    He has also confirmed that Trump will attend this year's
gathering of the Association of South East Asian Nations,
scheduled for the Philippines in November. [nL3N1HS41C]
    While in Australia, Pence and his family will also meet some
local wildlife at Sydney's zoo, take a harbor cruise and tour
the world-famous Sydney Opera House.

 (Reporting By Jane Wardell and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul
Tait, Robert Birsel)
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