Julie Bishop (1)
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop listens during a news conference. Reuters/Nick Ansell

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has extended an invitation to US Vice President Mike Pence to visit Australia and the Pacific region. The invitation was issued during Bishop’s meeting with Pence in Washington, DC.

This comes in the wake of widespread protests that broke out in the UK following Theresa May’s invitation to US President Donald Trump to make a state visit. May backed the invitation despite intense backlash, which included more than 1.5 million people signing a petition.

If Pence does accept the invitation and makes a visit to Australia, it will be the first time in nearly three decades that a US vice president has visited before the US President. From 1969 until 1989, no US president made a visit Down Under. During this time, the US presidential office was held by Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

Meanwhile, Bishop said her first meeting with Pence as “very warm” and “friendly.” She added that many important things were addressed.

“The meeting went longer than scheduled, which is always a good sign, because we had so many issues to discuss. And we exchanged information and ideas and it was a positive, constructive, discussion,” she said. “We spoke about areas where we’re working together, areas where we have common challenges and where Australia and the United States can hopefully solve some of the issues confronting our region and globally.”

As reported by News Corp, on the agenda of the meeting was the relationship between the two countries and a new US review on Syria and Iraq. “Obviously we have a deep interest in any change of strategy or thinking on that (Syria and Iraq) so that was one of the issues that we discussed,” she said. “I took the opportunity to provide our thinking and ideas on what we’d like the review to address.”

Meanwhile, Bishop has dismissed claims that the refugee resettlement deal between Australia and the outgoing Obama administration was part of a “people swap.” This comes following Immigration Minister Peter Dutton saying he has no issues with the refugee deal being referred to as a people swap.

“Australia is a very generous nation when it comes to resettling those who are found to be refugees from all over the world. We’ll continue to do so,” she said. “We are seeking to resettle a number of people who came via the people-smuggling trade and have been in Nauru in particular with the United States. But we will continue to take refugees from across the world, as we’ve always done.”

Talks are going on about Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull making a visit to Washington, DC to meet with Trump later this year. However, there have not been any discussions about Trump making a visit to Australia.