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US to honour 'dumb' Australia migrant deal

BBC News logo BBC News 22/04/2017

Vice-President Mike Pence (l) with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull © EPA Vice-President Mike Pence (l) with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull The United States has confirmed it will be going through with a migrant resettlement plan made with Australia.

US President Donald Trump once called the deal, which was agreed under his predecessor, "dumb".

The agreement allows for up to 1,250 asylum seekers to Australia to resettle in the US.

The agreement would be honoured, but not necessarily admired, visiting Vice-President Mike Pence said after talks with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Pence was speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Turnbull.

Australia has controversially refused to accept the refugees, most of whom are men from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, and instead holds them in offshore detention centres on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

In the first two weeks of his presidency, Mr Trump said he had a bad phone call with Prime Minister Turnbull, when the Australian filled him in on the deal. 

Mr Pence also stressed that all those who sought asylum in the United States would be subject to tough vetting laws.

He also used the occasion to announce that a US naval strike group would arrive in the Sea of Japan in days.

Mr Pence said: "The one thing that nations, most especially the regime in North Korea should make no mistake about, is that the United States has the resources, the personnel and the presence in this region of the world to see to our interest and to see to the security of those interests and our allies."

Tensions between the US and North Korea have escalated in recent weeks.

However, there had been confusion as to the whereabouts of the US carrier group with contradictory statements from Washington.

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