WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull are aiming to put a rocky start behind when they meet for the first time and commemorate the 75th anniversary of an important World War II battle.
Their meeting Thursday evening was taking place on Trump’s first trip back to New York City since he left in January to be sworn in as president.
Not everyone was happy with the homecoming, with protests planned against the Republican president in the heavily Democratic city.
The agenda for the leaders’ get-together included North Korea’s missile testing and security and economic issues, as well as Turnbull’s deal with then-President Barack Obama for the United States to resettle up to 1,250 mostly Muslim refugees from Africa, the Mideast and Asia who are housed in immigration camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
The agreement was a source of friction when Trump and Turnbull spoke by telephone shortly after Trump took office Jan. 20. The conversation made headlines, and Trump later tweeted about the “dumb deal.” But Vice President Mike Pence assured Turnbull during a visit to Australia last month that the Trump administration will honor it, but “that doesn’t mean we admire the agreement.”
Trump campaigned against immigration, including by Muslims, and was enraged by the agreement.
The ties between the allies were reinforced during the Battle of the Coral Sea, when both countries’ warships and fighter planes battled the Japanese from May 4-8, 1942, forcing the Japanese navy to retreat for the first time in the war.
Trump and Turnbull were set to mark the anniversary of that battle with speeches at a dinner aboard the USS Intrepid. The decommissioned aircraft carrier fought in World War II and is a floating museum on the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan. The event is hosted by the American Australian Association.
Manhattan is where Trump made a name by transforming himself from real-estate developer into a celebrity businessman and now president. He hasn’t set foot in the city since leaving on Jan. 19 for Washington to be inaugurated into office the following day.
In the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump received 18 percent of the vote in the liberal city. Protests were planned near the USS Intrepid and Trump Tower, his Fifth Avenue home.
During the campaign, Trump would fly thousands of miles back to New York City to sleep in his own bed, leaving the impression that he would make frequent trips home after he became president. But Trump said in an interview last week that he so far has avoided returning to the city of his birth because the trips are expensive for the government and would inconvenience New Yorkers.
He has received some criticism for spending about half of his weekends as president at his estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump’s wife, Melania, and son Barron live at Trump Tower most of the time while the 11-year-old finishes the school year.
The president was not expected to spend the night there, but he could drop in before going to his golf club an hour away in Bedminister, New Jersey.
Associated Press writers Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.
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