• 20:39
  • 25.05.2020
PM coy on whether Manus raised with Trump

PM coy on whether Manus raised with Trump

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Malcolm Turnbull won't say whether he raised the US refugee resettlement deal during a half-hour rendezvous with US President Donald Trump in Manila.
The prime minister, who is in the Philippines capital for the East Asia summit, had one-on-one time with Mr Trump in his presidential suite without officials present.
"We decided we would sit down and have a very frank discussion as we do, we have a very good relationship, very frank relationship as you can see," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Manila on Tuesday.
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The fight against Islamic State in the Middle East and closer to home dominated the conversation.
However, Mr Turnbull wouldn't say whether he raised the prospect of speeding up the US refugee resettlement deal.
A stand-off at the mothballed Manus Island detention centre continues with hundreds of barricaded refugees and asylum seekers refusing to leave.
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The agreement was a flashpoint between the two leaders during their notoriously heated January phone call.
Mr Trump reluctantly agreed to honour the deal, struck by the Obama administration, to resettle up to 1250 refugees. Only 54 have gone to America so far.
"The US resettlement program is progressing, so that is all happening," Mr Turnbull said.
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He recently rejected a New Zealand offer to accept 150 people and urged the refugees to comply with Papua New Guinea's laws by leaving the naval base compound and moving to alternative accommodation.
Mr Turnbull also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday and they spoke about reviving a four-nation security forum, widely regarded as a means of countering growing Chinese influence.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd pulled out of the arrangement in 2008 because he was worried about upsetting Beijing.
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"The reality is we have lots of security on our agenda ... the world is a pretty small place nowadays and you have to work closely together," Mr Turnbull said, while playing down criticism from Beijing.
China's concerns didn't come up when he met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the summit. Instead, they discussed trade policy, terrorism, North Korea and the South China Sea maritime boundary dispute.
The prime minister told Mr Li he looked forward to visiting Beijing next year for leaders talks.
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Later on Tuesday, Mr Turnbull was also to meet leaders from the 15 other countries negotiating a China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership free trade pact.
Meanwhile, he kept the door open on ramping up Australian assistance to the Philippines fight against Islamic extremism.
Mr Turnbull witnessed Australian-trained Filipino soldiers, fresh from fighting an Islamic State insurgency at Marawi in the country's south, being put through their paces in an urban warfare drill on Monday afternoon.
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Eighty Australian Army personnel are training jungle fighters to handle urban combat and Australia also provided surveillance aircraft.
The Philippines government characterised the assistance as a "game changer".
The prime minister is due home Wednesday morning.
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