The US President and Australian Prime Minister have held their first face-to-face talks at a World War II commemoration gala. Relations had gotten off to an acrimonious start over a disagreement on immigration.
Sporting tuxedos, US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday reaffirmed the two countries' "iron bonds" forged during World War II when the two nations halted a Japanese advance in the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking ahead of a gala in New York commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the two leaders reportedly discussed national security, trade and boosting economic cooperation.
Trump told reporters that he was proud of the relationship he had with Turnbull and that the strong ties between the two nations had been "sealed with the blood of our fathers and grandfathers" who lost their lives in the war.
"Our brave warriors have fought shoulder to shoulder in every major conflict together," Trump said, adding that the US and Australia "were born as the rebellious children of the same parent."
That relationship was underscored by Turnbull, who said "we are always more assured of winning when we are fighting together." The US and Australia have fought alongside one another in the Middle East against the so-called "Islamic State" jihadist group and both have vehemently decried North Korea's military posturing.
All eyes were eagerly focused on Trump and Turnbull after relations between the two leaders got off to a rocky start. Turnbull was among the first leaders to speak to Trump via telephone shortly after the president's inauguration in January. However, Trump reportedly became irritated and hung up on Turnbull after the Australian premier expected him to honor a deal made by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, that would see the US accept up to 1,250 refugees held in processing centers off the coast of Australia.
After abruptly ending the conversation, Trump proclaimed that the agreement was a "dumb deal" and that his administration would review it.
On Thursday, however, Trump dismissed any notions of acrimony between the two as "fake news." The president told reporters: "They said we had a rough phone call. We didn't really have a rough phone call. It got a little bit testy. But that's okay."
However, the meeting in New York was cut short after Trump had remained in Washington longer than expected to observe the passage of the Republican health care bill through the House of Representatives - his first major legislative feat.
Turnbull congratulated Trump on the passage of the bill.
dm/rt (AP, dpa, AFP)