Former PMs weigh in ahead of Trump meeting

Australia should be disposed to committing more troops to the fight against Islamic State, former prime minister Tony Abbott says, as Malcolm Turnbull looks to his first face-to-face meeting with US President Donald Trump.


The leaders’ agenda in New York next week is expected to include the battle against extremists in Iraq and Syria, as well as how to respond to North Korea’s development of missiles.

Asked how Mr Turnbull should respond to a possible request from the US for more Australian forces in the Middle East, Mr Abbott told 2GB Radio: “If the Americans want additional Australian assistance, I think we should certainly be prepared to consider it. We should be disposed to do it.”

Australia is already one of the largest contributors to the fight against IS, with about 1000 personnel in Iraq and RAAF aircraft carrying out at least 2000 missions against the jihadist group’s strongholds.

Meanwhile, other former PMs have also offered their advice.

Paul Keating said it was important Mr Turnbull underline the need for a stronger relationship between China and the US.

“It doesn’t suit the United States or Australia for (China) to be de-legitimised because of US strategic interests,” Mr Keating told a Lowy Institute event on Wednesday.

“The most important thing for Australia is that there is peace in the Pacific between the two major powers.”

One thing Australia must not do with the Americans is keep bowing down.

“This is just bad behaviour. Bad, bad, bad behaviour,” Mr Keating said.

Kevin Rudd said Mr Turnbull should seek support for global diplomatic talks over North Korea, suggesting Kazakhstan could host a meeting.

“The possibility of massive destruction in Seoul itself should focus the mind when it comes to any contemplation in the United States about the wisdom of unilateral military action,” he told ABC radio.

“I’d begin to talk about what the South Koreans should and could do, and also bilaterally with the North.”

Mr Turnbull said in a statement in response to the invitation to meet with Mr Trump that it would be an opportunity to reaffirm the US-Australia alliance and America’s engagement with the Asia-Pacific.