Scott Morrison’s ‘miracle’ election victory came as no surprise to US President Donald Trump, who claimed at a working dinner he had no doubt the Coalition would win.
Mr Trump offered his congratulations to Mr Morrison as the pair dined at Osaka’s Imperial Hotel on the eve of the G20 summit in Japan.
He declared it a “tremendous” and “fantastic victory” that “didn’t surprise me” but “surprised a lot of other people”.
“They called it an upset, but I don’t call it an upset. You probably didn’t. Your wife didn’t call it an upset,” he told Mr Morrison on Thursday night.
Mr Trump revealed that he spoke with the Prime Minister before the federal election and reassured him that he would come out on top.
“I knew him. So I said, you’re going to do very well. And he did,” Mr Trump said.
Among the other diners were Mr Trump’s daughter and senior aide Ivanka, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and top national security adviser John Bolton.
Asked whether his “America first” policies hurt allies like Australia in areas including trade, Mr Trump said the US had been very good to its allies.
“We work with our allies, we take care of our allies,” he told Mr Morrison and reporters.
“So we do work with ourselves and we look at ourselves I think more positively than ever before, but we also look at our allies.
“And I think Australia’s a good example. We worked together very closely just recently on a big trade situation, we had a little bit of a trade deal going and it worked out very well for both of us.”
Mr Morrison said he saw the working dinner as a chance to urge Mr Trump to stay engaged with Chinese president Xi Jinping to resolve the trade dispute casting a shadow over the global economy.
“It’s going to be an important few days, but there’s no better or stronger or deeper relationship than the United States to Australia,” he told Mr Trump.
Mr Morrison said earlier in the week that Australia would not be a passive bystander as damage from the US-China trade tensions spread.
Mr Trump will also meet with Mr Xi in Osaka to discuss trade.
The White House has signalled it is in no hurry to solve the trade dispute with China and the President would use his meeting with Mr Xi “to see where the Chinese side is since the talks last left off”.
While Mr Morrison was optimistic they could move things along, he cautioned it may take longer than the world watching on would like.
China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye said on Wednesday his country does not want a trade war, but would “fight to the end if needed”.
Mr Morrison and Mr Trump were also expected to discuss the Prime Minister’s G20 initiative for stronger global cooperation on stopping terrorists and violent extremists using social media platforms, and developments with Iran and North Korea.