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President Trump and Australia PM have ‘worst call’

A phone call between US President Donald Trump and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has called into question a refugee resettlement deal.

The Washington Post reported Mr Trump called the conversation “the worst by far” of his calls with world leaders that day, and cut it short.

Mr Trump later tweeted that he would “study this dumb deal“.

Struck with the Obama administration, it would see up to 1,250 asylum seekers to Australia resettled in the US.

Australia has controversially refused to accept them and instead holds them on offshore detention centres on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

PM Turnbull had been seeking clarification on the future of the deal after Mr Trump last Friday signed an executive order temporarily barring the entry into the US of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries.

What do we know about the phone call?

The phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull took place at the weekend, and was one of four the US president had with world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

The Washington Post quotes senior US officials, briefed on the call, as saying that the conversation should have lasted an hour but was abruptly ended after 25 minutes by Mr Trump.

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Mr Trump reportedly said accepting the refugees, many of whom are from Iran, Iraq and Syria, would be like the US accepting “the next Boston bombers”, who were from the Caucasus region of Russia.

File photo of asylum seekers holding up identity cards after landing in Manus island in Papua New GuineaImage copyrightAP
Image captionThese asylum seekers to Australia had their application processed in Papua New Guinea

The official version of the call, from both the US and Australia, were more restrained.

On Monday Mr Turnbull said he had spoken to Mr Trump and thanked him for agreeing to uphold the deal.

US presidential spokesman Sean Spicer also said Mr Trump intended to uphold the deal.

@realDonaldTrump tweets: Image copyright@REALDONALDTRUMP/TWITTER

Mr Turnbull later said he was disappointed that details of the call – which he described as “very frank and forthright” – had been made public. However, he said Mr Trump had assured him the deal would go ahead.

He told a Sydney radio station that “the report that the president hung up is not correct”.

How many refugees?

Australia has refused to confirm to the BBC how many refugees it expects to be resettled.

Mr Trump’s tweet on Wednesday incorrectly labelled refugees as illegal, and recast the number who might be resettled as “thousands” instead of the official figure of 1,250.

When the deal was first negotiated in November, it was agreed that US authorities would assess the refugees and decide who would be resettled in the US.

The agreement was set to be administered through the United Nations refugee agency.

Australia has been repeatedly criticised by rights groups for its tough policy on refugees and asylum seekers.

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