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Australia PM Headed to US for Talks    02/21 06:19

   CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heads to the 
United States on Wednesday, accompanied by the largest Australian political and 
business delegation ever to visit the U.S.

   President Donald Trump's softening opposition to joining the Trans-Pacific 
Partnership will be up for discussion when he meets Turnbull at the White House 
on Friday. The trade deal among 11 countries includes Australia, which also has 
a bilateral free trade partnership with the United States.

   Turnbull, a wealthy 63-year-old former Goldman Sachs partner, sees himself 
as having a lot in common with Trump, as they are both successful businessmen 
who entered politics relatively late in life.

   Security risks in the Asia-Pacific region created by a more assertive China 
and North Korea's nuclear ambitions will also be on the agenda.

   Turnbull will be seeking a clear picture from Trump on how he expects the 
North Korean crisis to unfold, said Kim Beazley, a former Australian defense 
minister who was ambassador to Washington until 2016.

   "Generally speaking, when an Australian prime minister meets an American 
president, the globe is traversed, all sorts of things, the commitments we have 
in common, where we're going to go in Iraq and all the rest of it," Beazley 
told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

   "The difficulty facing Mr. Turnbull is nobody can be absolutely sure how the 
current president engages on any of those fronts," Beazley added.

   While in Washington, Turnbull will address the U.S. National Governors' 
Association.

   Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said the most significant Australian political 
and business delegation to ever visit the United States signified the strength 
of the bilateral relationship.

   The United States is Australia's most important security partner, while 
China is Australia's biggest trading partner. Australia attempts to avoid 
taking sides in U.S. and Chinese rivalry.

   A recent Australian foreign policy statement and the U.S. National Defense 
Strategy both view China and Russia as potential threats to global security.

   Trump and Turnbull both dismiss speculation that their relationship had been 
damaged by their first, terse telephone conversation as national leaders last 
year in which the president reluctantly agreed to honor an Obama administration 
deal to resettle up to 1,250 refugees that Australia had rejected.

   Turnbull has since met Trump in New York, but the Washington meeting will be 
their first in the context of an official state visit.

   Two-way trade between the United States and Australia was $52 billion and 
growing last year, with the United States enjoying a trade surplus, according 
to Australian government figures.


(KA)

 
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