WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has accused Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of trying to send the “next Boston bombers” to America. The Washington Post reported that Mr Trump made the allegation in a telephone call with Mr Turnbull to discuss a deal Australia had signed with the Obama administration for sending some refugees to the United States. Boston bombers were two Chechen-American brothers who killed three people and injured several hundred others when they bombed a marathon in Boston on April 15, 2013. CNN reported that Mr Trump hung up on the Australian leader halfway into the scheduled hour-long conversation, when Mr Turnbull tried to move the conversation on. In November, days after Mr Trump’s election, the Obama administration concluded a deal with Australia to settle in the United States about 1,250 refugees currently held in offshore detention centres on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus. Most of the stranded refugees are from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, four of the seven nations on Mr Trump’s temporary migration ban list announced recently. “This is the worst deal ever,” Mr Trump reportedly told Mr Turnbull, apparently urging Australia to reconsider the arrangement. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, however, had said earlier this week that the Trump administration would honour the agreement. The phone call was intended to find a way out without breaching the commitment made by a US administration.
The Washington Post was the first to report details of the 25-minute call, which took place over the weekend and ended prematurely. “At one point Mr Trump informed Mr Turnbull that he had spoken [to] four other world leaders that day – including Russian President Vladimir Putin – and that “this was the worst call by far”. “Mr Trump’s behaviour suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organisations in speeches and on Twitter,” the Post observed. The newspaper reported that US officials told its correspondents that Mr Trump had behaved similarly in conversations with leaders of other countries, including Mexico. “But his treatment of Mr Turnbull was particularly striking because of the tight bond between the United States and Australia – countries that share intelligence, support one another diplomatically and have fought together in wars including in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the Post commented. The official read-out of the conversation, however, said that the two leaders had “emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally”. The Post reported that the US president told the Australian prime minister that he did “not want these people” but that it was his “intention” to honour the deal.