United States Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other government figures when he visits Australia as part of a Pacific goodwill tour next month.
Pence will meet with Turnbull, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Foreign Minister Julia Bishop on April 22nd as Pence seeks to heal the damage done by the heated exchanges between President Donald Trump and Turnbull earlier this year, as well as the scrapping of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on free trade.
Pence will be the first senior US official to visit Australia in the wake of the election of President Trump in late 2016. It is clear the trip will be centred around shoring up alliances in the Pacific region, as the Vice-President will also visit South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, following the recent meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“This trip will serve as the vice-president’s first official travel to the Asia-Pacific region,” said a White House statement announcing the tour. “During his trip, the vice-president will emphasise President Trump’s continued commitment to US alliances and partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region, highlight the administration’s economic agenda, and underscore America’s unwavering support for our troops at home and abroad.”
The responsive rhetoric from Australia has been open to alliance with the United States, with Defence Industry minister Christopher Pyne stating in Washington DC that “strengthening the industrial alliance between our two countries will ensure our mutual prosperity and protect our national interests as we navigate an increasingly uncertain 21st century together.”
Attention will be paid during the meeting to the outcomes and impact of Trump’s negotiations with China, and Pence is expected to push in a similar manner for Australia’s support in action against North Korea’s missile programme. He is also expected to assuage fears over the future of bilateral US-Australian trade in the light of Trump’s early actions as President.