Aussie PM in New York to mend relations

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SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will seek to steady Australia's longstanding alliance with the US when he meets President Donald Trump today, after relations soured at a time of growing tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

His visit to New York comes as Washington works to shore up regional support against North Korea, ratcheting up pressure on China to do more to counter Mr Kim Jong Un's nuclear ambitions.

But the advent of Mr Trump has invigorated a debate over Australia's place in the world and whether its future lies with an unpredictable US, or a closer relationship with China, its top trading partner.

Mr Turnbul lis "delighted" to meet the US leader, and said yesterday: "We'll talk about a wide range of security and economic issues, but top of the list obviously at the moment is North Korea."

It will be their first encounter since a tetchy phone call rattled ties soon after Mr Trump took office, when he took issue with a deal that the US would settle refugees from Australia's Pacific island camps.

The president took to Twitter afterwards to label the agreement struck with Barack Obama's administration as "dumb".

The meeting will take place at the USS Intrepid museum, where they will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea when US and Australian forces fought against the Japanese in the Pacific.

"All that imagery... will help paint a picture of a relationship that is getting increasingly normalised after a surprising and unexpected start," said Mr Simon Jackman, chief executive at the United States Studies Centre in Sydney. - AFP

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