Turnbull calls Trump’s phone call ‘frank’

Canberra,  Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday described his recent phone conversation with US President Donald Trump as “very frank”, a media report said.

Trump reportedly expressed his anger over a proposed refugee deal between the two countries, before abruptly cutting the call short on Wednesday.

Admitting the call was “forthright”, Turnbull said the president has a larger-than-life character. “He’s clearly a big personality,” Turnbull told radio journalist John Laws on Friday, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I note that his official spokesman described the conversation as a cordial one… I can say that it was very frank, it was forthright,” the Prime Minister said.

Information was “leaked” and first reported on Washington Post that Trump described the 25-minute phone call with Turnbull as his “worst of the day”, reportedly cutting it short abruptly.

Trump was unhappy over the deal signed by Turnbull and the Barack Obama administration late in 2016, that requires the US to take in around 1,200 asylum seekers from Australia’s offshore detention centres.

The President made his feelings known about the deal publicly on Thursday when he tweeted his displeasure: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

Turnbull told the Australian media that the refugee deal would go ahead despite the President’s strong words.

“As I’ve said, the President made a commitment to honour the deal which had been entered to by his predecessor. That’s been confirmed now several times,” Turnbull said on Friday.

“It’s very important that it goes ahead because it will enable us to secure resettlement options for a number of the people on Nauru and Manus Island.”

But the testing week for Australian-US relations was heightened further on Thursday night, when the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer twice referred to Turnbull as “Prime Minister Trumbull”.

Meanwhile, a feeling of distrust was reported to have taken hold of the West Wing in Donald Trump’s White House and beyond, as his aides view each other and officials across the federal government and on Capitol Hill with suspicion following several leaks in the past few days, the politico reported.

A lock down of information and communication channels was being attempted it said that could, however, have serious consequences across the government.