Trump: ScoMo ‘a man of titanium’

 

The US President described Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a "man of titanium" in their first White House meeting as the two leaders try to avoid a new war in the Middle East and resolve Chinese trade wars.

In a chaotic press briefing in the Presidential oval office, the pair traded compliments and talked up their formal meetings during the PM's official state visit.

But in reference to former president George W. Bush's "man of steel" label for John Howard - the last Australian leader bestowed a state visit - Mr Trump upped his metals when asked to describe Mr Morrison.

"I would say a man of titanium - titanium is much tougher than steel, he is a man of titanium," he told reporters while flanked by their wives First Lady Melania Trump and Jenny Morrison.

"I think he is a nice guy. OK. A man of real real strength and a great guy."

As they faced the whirring from photographers, a galaxy of television cameras and microphones as well journalists' shouting questions, Mr Trump said he wanted to travel to Australia later in the year for official business and some golf.

"Love to do it. Nothing more exciting than having it in Australia," he said.

At the start of their oval office meeting, the US announced tough new sanctions against Iran and its national bank - described as the "highest ever".

But the pair downplayed immediate need for military action as they both urged "restraint". Australia has so far agreed to a limited contribution to the US-led freedom of navigation operation in the Strait of Hormuz.

"I think the United State has taken a very measured, calibrated approach to date," Mr Morrison said.


"The thing about our partnership … it is about our national interests. We have good conversations about these things,

"We never get ahead of ourselves with these things. We take this one step at a time. We keep talking to each other, that is what we have always done … and we are going to keep doing it."

Mr Trump said a "natural instinct" was to "maybe I have to hold myself back".

"The easiest thing I could do, in fact I could do it right here, is go ahead fellas, do it, and that would be a very bad day for Iran. That is the easiest thing I could do, so easy. There are others who say they should do it.

"Let's see what happens. It will take place in one minute, I could do it front of you right now. Then you would have a nice big story to report. And I think it shows far more strength … next week, three doesn't matter any different.

"Strong persons approach and the thing that does strength is showing a little bit of restraint. Much easier to do it the other way - much easier, and Iran knows if they misbehave they are on borrowed time.

United States President Donald Trump and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Mick Tsikas
United States President Donald Trump and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Mick Tsikas

"They are not doing well. Far worse than they have done before. Riots in their streets. Solve it very quickly. Restraint is a good thing."

While Mr Morrison urged openness with China and for the US to resolve its damaging trade war, Mr Trump described the country as a "threat to the whole world".

Mr Trump later told a press conference that he would not try to seek a trade deal before next year's Presidential elections.

He said only a "complete" deal with China on trade will be acceptable and his tough approach won support from Mr Morrison.

"I'm not looking for a partial deal. I'm looking for a complete deal," Mr Trump told reporters during a joint news conference with the PM in the White House east room.

He also praised Australian mining and said the exploration of critical minerals, or rich deposits.

Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump had earlier welcomed Mr Morrison and his wife, Jenny, to the White House with a pomp-filled military arrival ceremony on the South Lawn.

The President praised the very important and "unwavering" friendship that was based in "history, culture and tradition".

He said the Australians were "very resilient".

Mr Trump spoke of a "cherished relationship" between the two countries and said he and Mrs Trump were looking forward to hosting the Morrisons for the state dinner: "It will be quite something."

Mr Trump spoke of the "unbreakable bond" that is rooted in "history, culture and tradition" and commemorated the "100 years of mateship" - last year, US and Australia marked 100 years since the two countries' troops fought alongside each other in WWI.

The two countries share "Common customs, common values, common dreams and common heroes," Mr Trump said.

He also spoke of the two countries fighting "communism, fascism and radical Islamic terrorism."

With their two wives flanked next to them, the pair said they would be talking about Iran and China which was a "threat to the world".

President Trump announced sanctions on the Bank if Iran but downplayed any military action.

He finished at 9:27am local time (11:30pm AEST) to warm applause.

Hundreds gathered under clear blue skies for the welcoming ceremony as children waved miniature Australian and US flags.

The ceremony included Marine band performances of the national anthem of both countries and a 19-gun salute and inspection of troops.

US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison review troops during a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Picture: AP
US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison review troops during a State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Picture: AP

Mr Morrison is just the second world leader to be granted the high diplomatic honour of a state visit during the Trump administration.

The leaders will meet for talks and face journalists at a joint news conference in the White House East Room.

Mr Morrison will also be treated to lunch at the State Department.

They will cap the night with an opulent state dinner beneath the stars in a Rose Garden arrayed in shades of green and gold in tribute to Australia's national colours.

The first lady released some key details, but is withholding the guest list and details about her gown until just before the festivities get under way.

Scores of guests will dine on a sunchoke ravioli starter, Dover sole entree and apple tart a la mode served on a mix of round and rectangular tables decked out in shades of yellows and green in tribute to Australia's national colours, Mrs Trump's office said before journalists were in to see the decor.

President Donald Trump speaks as he and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny Morrison during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump speaks as he and first lady Melania Trump welcome Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny Morrison during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Picture: AP

Temporary flooring has been laid over the grass in the famous garden.

Dinner centrepieces feature more than 2500 roses from California in shades of yellow, and Australia's national flower, the golden wattle, while the garden will be decorated with white and yellow roses. Musical groups from the US military will provide the after-dinner entertainment.

As he arrived in Washington, Mr Morrison said he looked forward to celebrating 100 years of "mateship" between the US and Australia.

"There are many larger, I suppose, more powerful friends that America has, but they know that they do not have a more sure and steadfast friend than Australia," he told reporters who accompanied him to Washington. "And so I'm looking forward to spending time with our American friends here over the next few days and celebrating our tremendous relationship." Mr Trump and Mr Morrison will spend part of Sunday together when they tour a new, Australian-owned manufacturing facility in Ohio.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny Morrison watch troops march during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Picture: AP
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny Morrison watch troops march during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. Picture: AP

Beyond socialising, the leaders plan talks on military, intelligence and economic issues, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region.

They intend to sign a memorandum of understanding to further US and Australia co-operation in space, according to a senior administration official.

Mr Morrison said the space race and moon missions were remarkable achievement, adding: "Indeed, we are going back".

Mr Trump and Mr Morrison also will discuss how to ensure a stable market and supply of minerals known as rare earths, which are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones, the official said.

They will roll out programs for the countries to work together on recycling ocean plastics, which harm marine wildlife and fishing, said the official, who was not authorised to provide details of the meetings and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Australia last received the high diplomatic honour of a US state visit in 2006, when President George W. Bush feted Prime Minister John Howard.

Australian pro golfer Greg Norman, a friend and sometime golf partner of Trump's, told The Associated Press in a text message that he'll be among the invited guests.

Donald Trump and Greg Norman. Picture: Supplied
Donald Trump and Greg Norman. Picture: Supplied

 

Lachlan Murdoch. Picture: Ella Pellegrini
Lachlan Murdoch. Picture: Ella Pellegrini


Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp., will attend, while his father, Rupert Murdoch sits out this dinner, a Fox representative said. The elder Murdoch was a guest at the White House state dinner for Australia some 13 years ago.

When it comes to state dinners, Mr Trump seems to prefer being on the receiving end.

Friday's will be just the second state dinner of Trump's administration, and the first in more than a year. By comparison, he's had state visits to Japan and Britain this year, in addition to other such visits in his first two years in office, including to Beijing on what China billed as a "state visit, plus."

TRUMP, SCOMO AGREE ON REACHING CHINA DEAL

In a joint press conference held at the White House at noon on Friday (2:00am AEST), Mr Trump reiterated that Australia was "a brilliant ally" both Mr Trump and Mr Morrison said they were committed to making a deal with China.

"You have a truly great country and I don't think we've had a better relationship than we do right now," Mr Trump told Mr Morrison. "Your numbers are fantastic, your economy is strong like ours."

Mr Trump called the US trade war with China "a little spat".

"We could do a very big deal with China and it could go very quickly but … we want to do it right," said Mr Trump.

"We're keen to see the US and China be able to come to an agreement," said Mr Morrison.

"Deals have got to be fair deals, good deals, and sustainable deals," he said.

Mr Morrison said that China is approaching a new generation of trading and needs to address issues such as intellectual property.

He said that "stability in the region" is mandatory for healthy trade, and that he regarded the US as a "positive influence".

Mr Morrison suggested that Australia is strong enough to weather global "ebbs and flows" having built up "resilience" through 29 consecutive years of economic growth.

He said he is confident that Mr Trump will come to an agreement with China and that when the US arrives at a suitable deal it will put "global trade on a stronger footing."

"Australia has never got rich selling things to itself," said Mr Morrison. "We've always had an outward-looking perspective."

Mr Morrison applauded Mr Trump's jobs growth.

"One of the many things that the president and I share in common is a passion for jobs. Jobs change people's lives, and Australia and the United States - we're committed to creating jobs. … We want people to have those opportunities."

Mr Morrison, and his high powered Australian delegation, held a series of White House meetings after the PM and his wife were greeted by a full ceremonial welcome with bands, guards and plenty of flags. A 19 gun salute also occurred during the Australian national anthem.

The Morrisons travelled to Washington DC as guests of honour of the first couple, who are hosting a formal state dinner later on Friday.

Over the next week the Morrisons will embark on a frenetic week of events, in Washington, Chicago, Ohio and New York to promote Australian business, space, mining, farming and defence as well as celebrate "mateship".

In Washington, Mr Morrison gave speeches and attended events at the State Department Pentagon and NASA.