Donald Trump has called a refugee resettlement deal agreed between the US and Australia “dumb”, and fractured the relationship between the US and Australia within days of taking office.
The US president cut short his first phone call with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, and reportedly described the conversation as “the worst by far” of his calls with world leaders, after the PM asked for clarification on the deal after Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban”.
The deal would see up to 1,250 asylum seekers to Australia, most of whom are from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, resettled in the US.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, had agreed to oversee the deal that would see the most vulnerable asylum seekers currently held by Australia in controversial detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, transferred to the US.
The official White House description of the call said both leaders “emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship”, but in reality Trump cut the hour-long call after 25 minutes his his Tweet on the subject has thrown the agreement into doubt.
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
In his tweet, Trump lied about the refugees being “illegal immigrants” and their number. There are currently 1,254 people being held by Australia in the two camps according to official statistics.