Don’t bow down to the US: Keating offers advice ahead of Trump meeting

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has offered some advice for Malcolm Turnbull’s first face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump and says he should encourage the US President to build ties with China.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be in New York meeting President Trump just as the finishing touches are put on the May budget.

Former Labor Prime Minister Keating said the Australian Government should not keep “bowing down” to Americans.

“What you have to do is work out what to do with him,” Mr Keating said.

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“One thing not to do with the Americans is keep bowing down. That’s bad behaviour – bad, bad, bad behaviour.”

The trip on May 4 will be highly dissected as it’s the pair’s first meeting since their heated January phone call made headlines around the world. 

It’ll take place on USS Intrepid, a decommissioned World War II aircraft carrier, as it hosts commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.

I’m delighted to travel to the US in May to meet with @POTUS President Donald J Trump & attend 75th Battle of the Coral Sea commemorations

— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) April 25, 2017

In a statement after the White House confirmed the event, Mr Turnbull said he was “delighted” to be meeting Mr Trump.

“My meeting with President Trump will provide an opportunity to reaffirm our alliance and the United States’ engagement with the Asia-Pacific,” he said on Wednesday.

The meeting comes as the Asia-Pacific region faces a serious threat from a “reckless and dangerous” North Korea.

The New York trip follows Mr Turnbull’s pre-Anzac Day visit to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he met US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

Before his trip to the Middle East, Mr Turnbull also hosted US Vice-President Mike Pence and his family in Sydney.

Mr Pence and other officials have tried to smooth relations between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull following their January phone call, which the president called “the worst call by far” of his conversations with leaders that day.

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The tension was over an Australia-US refugee deal originally struck with Barack Obama and later reluctantly agreed to by Mr Trump on the proviso there was “extreme vetting”.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president was looking forward to meeting the prime minister and showcasing the enduring bonds, deep friendship and close alliance the US had with Australia.

Former US ambassador to Australia John Berry said it was very important Mr Turnbull was meeting Mr Trump so early in the president’s term.

Using the Coral Sea anniversary was also a wonderful way to show how the alliance between the two nations was forged in blood during World War II.

“Right now Australia is side by side with the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria taking on ISIL and terrorists,” Mr Berry told Sky News.

“The president and vice-president are now keenly aware just how deep and broad this relationship is.”

Mr Berry said tensions on the Korean Peninsula were likely to feature in the talks between the two leaders.

The timing of Mr Turnbull’s latest trip is tricky given it takes him away from final federal budget deliberations before its delivery in Canberra on May 9.

Assistant minister Karen Andrews is not concerned about the timing, insisting budget preparations have been under way for many months.

“The prime minister’s visit to the United States is quite a separate issue and will cause no concerns,” she told Sky News.

Labor’s Ed Husic said it was good the meeting was finally happening and Australia’s voice was being heard.

“Obviously Australians being Australians, we value our friendships but we also value the right to be able to speak our mind from time to time,” he said.

– with AAP

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