Confirmed: Malcolm Turnbull, Trump to finally meet face-to-face

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Malcolm Turnbull
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces his new federal cabinet during a media conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, September 20, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

After reports of their testy phone call earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Donald Trump are set to meet in person for the first time on board the USS Intrepid in New York next week. Turnbull confirmed his meeting with Trump, saying he was "delighted" to be travelling to meet his American counterpart and perceived the meeting as an opportunity to reaffirm alliance.

The Turnbull-Trump meeting in May will be part of the 75th anniversary commemorations for the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which Australia and US partnered to take on the Imperial Japanese Navy. In a statement, the Aussie leader said the two countries “share the values of democracy, the rule of law and a commitment to peace, prosperity and security.”

Previously, White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced that Trump will hold a bilateral meeting and is looking forward to meet Turnbull.  The announcement comes after US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Australia.

Turnbull, who is set to hand down the Federal Budget on May 9, assured that the Australian and US’ forces will continue to serve together. "Our forces continue to serve together in defense of those values in the Middle East where I have visited our troops and discussed the future of the region with US commanders and Defense Secretary James Mattis,” he said.

He shared that he would also discuss the "serious threat from a reckless and dangerous regime in North Korea" with the US president in their scheduled meeting. The Aussie leader hinted about his first face-to-face meeting with Trump on Tuesday while in the United Arab Emirates, saying he was looking forward to continuing discussions with him.

World War II’s Battle of the Coral Sea was dubbed as the battle that saved Australia as it stopped Japan’s invasion of the country. It ran from May 4 to 8, 1942. The American-Australian Association, lead by former US ambassador to Australia John Berry, will host the event.

Turnbull’s meeting with Trump in New York also means the former will not be in Australia for days while major details of the flagship economic document are being finalised. ABC understands that Australian WWII veterans will also head to New York to be part of the event. The two leaders were previously engaged with a testy phone call over a refugee deal between the two countries, which Trump described a dumb deal.

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