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President Trump welcomes Australia’s prime minister, cementing strong trade, security ties

President Trump welcomes Australia’s prime minister, cementing strong trade, security ties

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in late September 2019 for the second state visit of his administration, signaling the close bond between the two allies as the U.S. takes on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Iran.

President Trump and Prime Minister Morrison were expected to discuss security and trade, as the PRC’s increasing assertiveness, especially in the energy-rich South China Sea, has raised concerns within the region and the United States.

The leaders also released a plan aimed at securing the supply of rare earth minerals, as concerns grow that China, the world’s largest processor and producer of the minerals, could cut off shipments of the prized commodities.

Days before the visit, a sign draped across the Australian Embassy in Washington proclaimed “100 years of mateship” between the two countries. During Morrison’s arrival at the White House’s South Lawn, President Trump greeted him with a 19-gun salute and U.S. Marine Band performances of each nation’s national anthem. (Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison review the troops during an official arrival ceremony on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, D.C., on September 20, 2019.)

“It’s highly symbolic of where the relationship sits at the moment,” said Patrick Buchan, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

President Trump got off to a smooth start with Morrison in May 2019, congratulating him on his surprise election victory in a tweet noting there were “no greater friends” than the United States and Australia.

The two also met on the sidelines of the G20 in June 2019, cementing warm ties.

Australia also agreed in August 2019 to join a coalition to protect oil tankers and cargo ships from threats posed by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz after a series of attacks there that Washington has blamed on Tehran.

Australia has also effectively banned China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a top provider of telecommunications equipment, from its 5G network. The United States says Huawei’s ties to the PRC make the network equipment it sells a security risk.

Australian intelligence concluded the PRC was responsible for a cyber attack on Australia’s Parliament and its three largest political parties.

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