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Accepting the refuges will “make us look awfully bad”: Trump to Australian PM

Accepting the refuges will “make us look awfully bad”: Trump to Australian PM
AFP File Photo

WASHINGTON: A leading American daily posted highly classified transcripts of Donald Trump’s conversations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has turned into a cause of worry for both sides.

A transcript, published by the Washington Post on Thursday, showed Trump and Turnbull battling over a refugee-swap deal made between the Obama administration and Australia.

According to the transcript, Trump told Turnbull the agreement was “stupid,” “disgusting” and “horrible.”

In his conversation with the Australian Prime Minister, Trump is heard getting agitated on the refugee issue and eventually telling him that the call was the most irksome of the day.

Transcripts of both the conversations that happened on January 27 and 28 respectively were posted by The Washington Post.

In his conversation with Turnbull, Trump says that accepting the refuges will “make us look awfully bad”.

“We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing,” Trump is quoted as saying in the transcripts.

The conversation between the two leaders grew sour as Trump rejected an agreement to take refugees.

The Post account showed Turnbull almost begging Trump to take 1,250 to 2,000 refugees off Australia’s hands. A flustered Trump even said the conversation was “ridiculous.”

“I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day,” Trump told Turnbull. “(Russian President Vladimir) Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous,” said the US President, as he abruptly ends the call.

In an aftermath to this, Turnbull has faced sharp criticism in Australia for telling Trump that he could refuse refugees.

Turnbull on Friday said he was merely “standing up” for Australia. The White House said it would not comment on the leak.

“It has always been subject to American vetting procedures. That’s always been part of the arrangement,” he told reporters in his response, CNN reports.

The phone call was made just after Trump took office, and the U.S. President was fuming at Turnbull over the deal, which contradicts his election promise to ban people arriving in the U.S. from Muslim-majority nations and to suspend the country’s intake of refugees.

Turnbull tried to reassure the rattled President that each refugee would be subject to U.S. vetting, and that the U.S. could refuse anyone it chose to.

Under the Obama-era refugee deal, the United States will take up to 1,250 refugees that Australia houses in detention camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Australia detains asylum-seekers who try to come to the country by boat at these centers.

The arrival of refugees by boat is a highly politicised issue in Australia, and the deal with the U.S. was celebrated as a major political victory by Turnbull’s Liberal Party — Australia’s conservative party, which rules in a coalition. It would be a significant political loss if the deal were to fall through.

With agencies inputs