Pence reaffirms alliance between US, Australia

Indo Asian News Service

Sydney, April 22 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday reaffirmed "the strong and historic alliance between Washington and Australia" while visiting Sydney.

Pence, who arrived in Sydney late Friday, is on a three-day visit to Australia on the last leg of his Asia-Pacific tour, Efe news reported.

He is expected to discuss regional security and trade, as well as reaffirming bilateral relations.

"My presence here today - at the President's direction - it is about a reaffirmation of the strong ties in both our security and our prosperity," Pence said during his meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and also conveyed US President Donald Trump's greetings.

Pence was greeted by Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and will meet with other senior officials, military personnel and leading businessmen from both countries later on Saturday.

He will address issues including territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the Syria crisis during his visit.

Pence, the most senior US official to visit Australia since Trump took office in January, is expected to use his visit to smooth over relations between Washington and Canberra following a tense phone call between Turnbull and Trump in February.

During their conversation, Trump voiced his strong opposition to Australia's asylum-seeker deal made with the previous US administration.

Pence will conclude his 10-day Asia Pacific tour on Monday, when he will depart for Hawaii.

During his visit he has sought to strengthen ties with US allies in the region following Trump's criticism of China and Japan during his presidential campaign.

--IANS

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