Australian PM Brushes Off Hubbub on Leaked Transcripts

Malcolm Turnbull says he and President Trump have 'warm' relationship
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 4, 2017 8:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – Australia's prime minister insisted on Friday that his relationship with President Trump is "warm," despite transcripts of a heated conversation in which the leaders sparred over a refugee deal, per the AP. The January phone call between Trump and Malcolm Turnbull was widely reported at the time, but the transcripts published Friday by the Washington Post offered new details into the conversation, which focused on an Obama-era refugee deal under which the US will take up to 1,250 refugees that Australia houses in detention camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Per the transcript, Trump told Turnbull the agreement was "stupid," ''disgusting," and "horrible," adding: "This deal will make me look terrible ... I am going to get killed on this thing."

But Turnbull frames the conversation as "courteous, frank ... as President Trump said. We're both adults. ... I stand up for Australia's interests, he stands up for America's interests. We have a warm relationship." Turnbull did dodge a question on whether he regretted characterizing as "fake" earlier media reports about the conversation. Trump originally said reports deeming the call testy were "fake news," insisting the call was civil. Trump repeated that assertion when he and Turnbull met in NYC in May, to which Turnbull responded: "Yes, that's exactly right." But the transcript showed the exchange was indeed fraught, with Trump at one point saying his conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin had been nicer: "I have been making these calls all day, and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call." (Read more Malcolm Turnbull stories.)

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