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International relations

Golfing great pushes Australia to front of Trump queue

Golf legend Greg Norman enabled the Australian PM to get in an early call to US President-elect Donald Trump, media reports say. Norman reportedly had a phone number "linked" to his American golfing buddy.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull became one of the first world leaders to telephone with US President-elect Donald Trump after his surprise election victory last week thanks to golfing great Greg Norman, who had a phone number "closely linked to Trump," reports said on Thursday.

Turnbull's office confirmed a report in Sydney's "Daily Telegraph" to AFP news agency that Norman, who often plays golf with Trump, had given Australia's ambassador to the US a phone number enabling the prime minister to contact the president-to-be.

Turnbull became just the second world leader to reach Trump, with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi claiming to be the first.

'Great networks'

The Australian prime minister confirmed on Thursday that Norman had facilitated the contact with Trump, but gave no details on exactly how.

Malcolm Turnbull (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Miller)

Turnbull said Norman was "a great help"

"In diplomacy and policies, you use lots of networks. All I can say is we have great networks, great connections and Greg Norman is a great Australian," Turnbull told reporters in Sydney, describing the more than a million Australians living overseas as "one of our greatest assets."

Following his phone call with Trump last week, Turnbull called the real-estate billionaire a dealmaker who would "view the world in a very practical and pragmatic way."

Norman, who resides in the US, described Trump as a friend and said he was happy to help.

"Donald, for all his bluster, rhetoric and aggressive style of messaging, caught the attention of those that need a rudder for their forgotten ship and beliefs," he said in a statement.

The golfer was formerly ranked world number one and won the British Open in 1986 and 1993.

Reported disorganization

Dubai | Trump Golf Resort (Getty Images/AFP/K. Sahib)

Trump builds golf courses as part of his business activities

The approach used by Australia to gain access to the president-elect would seem to confirm reports of a certain disarray within the team organizing the transition ahead of Trump's inauguration on January 20.

A "New York Times" report on Tuesday said that prominent allies of the US were having considerable difficulties reaching Trump, with foreign leaders blindly phoning his office block in a bid to touch base.

Trump has denied the report, tweeting on Wednesday that he had spoken with a large number of foreign leaders.

Trump's staff have, however, ignored usual protocol by failing to acknowledge phone calls or other contact with world leaders.

tj/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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