Australian prime minister readies trade, infrastructure pitch for Trump


US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull traded compliments and declarations of enduring "mateship" at the White House Friday, striving to put an ill-tempered first phone call behind them.

Following their meeting, the White House said Trump and Turnbull "discussed ways to deepen trilateral cooperation with Japan and affirmed the importance of expanding cooperation between Australia, the US, Japan, and India".

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

"A lot of counties, cities, and states have a massive amount of capital tied up in assets that are paying no tax, making profits that shareholders never see and basically, in many cases, could be used more efficiently", Joe Hockey, ambassador of Australia to the United States, told reporters, citing the success of a similar program in Australia. "We maintain them. They are there and they're well known but we certainly don't presume to provide policy or political advice on that matter", Turnbull, refusing to draw Trump's ire, claimed.

And still, both Trump and Turnbull both hammered home that the relationship between Australia and the United States can only grow exponentially.

Mr Turnbull trod carefully, making it clear he was satisfied with Australia's gun laws, but declining to advise Mr Trump to follow a similar path.

Officials say Trump exploded and hung up after he was told about a Barack Obama-era deal to move refugees from Australia to America.

Members of Congress reportedly will travel to Australia later this year to discuss such funding sources for their forthcoming infrastructure legislation.

And despite a rising tide of isolationism, Mr Turnbull argued that the United States was at its best when it was acting as a global leader.

"We spent much of our time today talking about jobs", Turnbull said. He praised the "merit-based" immigration system of the land down under.

The Prime Minister was all smiles on Saturday before flying out of the United States capital bound for Canberra.

"There is no closer friendship", Trump said.

Along with Turnbull came a large group of company heads.

But Joe Hockey, Australia's ambassador to the USA, said the former businessmen now "understand each other" and enjoy each other's company.

The leaders described American-Australia bilateral relations as "rock solid", saying, "We recognize that it is more important than ever to defend our interests, values, and way of life". The pair held an infamously bad-tempered telephone call early on in Trump's presidency.

When asked if he would soon like to visit Australia, Mr Trump said, "I would absolutely".