Pence reaffirms refugee deal with Australia despite reservations

Speaking in Sydney on Saturday, Pence said the the Trump administration, mindful of its longstanding alliance with Australia, a critical regional partner, would honor the Obama deal, even if it still disagreed with it. "All told, these companies signed no fewer than 11 major deals worth more than $10 billion".

"The question before all of you is where are the opportunities and where are the barriers, in what ways could the United States work with the leadership here in Australia to create an even better environment for investment and trade.", Mr Pence said.

US Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Sydney Opera House and Taronga Zoo during a day of site seeing.

Mr Pence also praised Australia for calling on China to exert greater economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

Pence and Turnbull said they are aligned in their opinion that China should use its leverage with North Korea to de-escalate the nuclear threat.

The deal has taken on added importance for Australia, which is under political and legal pressure to shut the camps, particularly one on Manus Island, where violence between residents and inmates flared on Good Friday.

Mr Pence also made it clear the U.S. would honour the refugee deal struck with the Federal Government to resettle people from Australian-run detention centres, even though the Trump administration dislikes it.

Watchdog Keeps Georgia's Press Freedom Index Unchanged
In its accompanying press statements, RSF also said USA president Donald Trump was carrying out a witch hunt against journalists. In the Western Hemisphere the worst abuser of press freedoms is Cuba , and Syria is now the deadliest country for journalists.

Early last week, Mr Trump said he had sent an "armada" towards North Korea to serve as a warning to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Australia had come under worldwide pressure for continuing to operate two refugee camps off its shores on the island nation of Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

"President Trump has made it clear that we'll honor the agreement, but it doesn't mean we admire the agreement", Pence said.

US Vice Mike Pence has reaffirmed the Trump administration will resettle refugees in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island. Shortly after he took office, he spoke with Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the deal. "We will honour this agreement out of respect to this enormously important alliance", Mr Pence said at Mr Turnbull's harbourside official residence in Sydney.

The visit to Australia is the first by a senior Trump administration official as the United States looks to strengthen ties with Asian allies.

Also, Pence was to meet with the Australian opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten and with some business executives.

Sydney-based Edward Blakely, who has served as both a Democrat and Republican staffer, said he believed the trip could help the two nations solidify their partnership.

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