US President Barack Obama is keen to pick Malcolm Turnbull’s brain regarding ongoing efforts to combat the “tumour” of Islamic State (IS) extremism, following the Prime Minister’s weekend visit to the Middle East.
Mr Obama on Wednesday morning (AEDT) thanked Mr Turnbull for the strong US-Australia alliance at the start of a bilateral meeting at the White House in Washington DC.
“The friendship between the Unites States and Australia is not only based on commerce and economics, geopolitical interests, but it is also based on an extraordinary affinity of shared values,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office.
There were very few countries that had as much in common as the US and Australia, Mr Obama said.
He thanked Australia for its hospitality during his past visits and declared he was happy to reciprocate.
“[But] it’s a little bit colder here than it was Down Under,” Mr Obama joked in the Washington winter.
The President flagged the pair would discuss global security and efforts to defeat IS extremists – as well as Mr Turnbull’s travels to Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m very much looking forward to hearing from Malcolm about his impressions about how we can continue to focus on what we call the parent tumour of ISIL in Iraq and Syria,” he said.
Australia is the second largest contributor of military forces in the fight against IS.
Mr Obama said the Trans-Pacific Partnership was another important agenda item.
“It is going to be good for our economy, it is going to be good for our workers and our businesses,” he said.
Mr Turnbull revealed he’d be urging congressional leaders to get behind the TPP when he heads back to Capital Hill in Canberra.
“The TPP is much more than a trade deal,” he said.
“The prosperity of the world and security of the world was founded on the peace and order in the Asia Pacific … underwritten by the United States and its allies.”
The regional deal involving 12 countries was controversial in the US and unlikely to pass Congress by the November presidential poll.
The Prime Minister also heaped praise on the US for securing a nuclear deal with Iran.
“That is a formidable effort, a great example of leadership on behalf of the United States,” Mr Turnbull said.
“In that very difficult part of the world … that is going to be a very important step forward in ensuring stability.”
Mr Turnbull wraps up his two-day US official visit on Wednesday night (AEDT).
Turnbull optimistic on China rebalance
Meanwhile, Mr Turnbull moved to instil US business leaders with a sense of optimism over China’s economic rebalance, while at the same time acknowledging the change of gear may not be smooth.
China’s economic growth rate has slowed to 6.9 per cent – the lowest in 25 years.
Speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Washington DC, ahead of his bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama, Mr Turnbull reassured business leaders that volatility brought opportunity.
“Rebalancing has to happen but it is overwhelming a good thing,” he said.
This is because the Chinese middle-class represented huge export opportunities for Australia and the US.
China’s investment boom was always going to be unsustainable, the PM said.
“Yes you are seeing an adjustment and these adjustments are never as smooth we would like,” he told reporters.
“It’s not like a racing car driver changing gears, there’s going to be some (clunkiness).”
Mr Turnbull held up Tasmania as an example of a struggling small state which was now sharing in a windfall from Chinese consumer demand.