White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced the meeting, which will come after Trump delivers remarks at the USS Intrepid Museum to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle of the Coral Sea in World War II. That battle featured American and Australian forces teaming up to fight the Japanese navy in the Pacific Theater.
Trump "looks forward to meeting the Prime Minister and to strengthening the enduring bonds, deep friendship, and close alliance between the United States and Australia," the White House said in a statement.
The awkward phone call between Trump and Turnbull came Jan. 28, eight days after Trump took office, when he accepted a congratulatory call from the leader of a staunch U.S. ally. But as Turnbull attempted to confirm that Trump would honor an existing U.S. commitment to take 1,250 refugees from an Australian detention facility, the president fumed that it was “the worst deal ever,” according to an account of the private conversation in The Washington Post.
During the conversation, Trump also boasted about the magnitude of his electoral college victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to U.S. officials with knowledge of the call. Their phone chat came a day after Trump had signed an executive order — since blocked in federal court — to temporarily ban refugees. During the call, Trump complained that he was “going to get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”
Trump later returned to the topic on Twitter with a message that stated: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”
Administration officials later confirmed that the government would abide by the terms of the refugee deal, but Trump has also frustrated Australians by pulling the United States out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that was viewed in the region as a hedge against China's growing economic clout.
The Trump administration has sought to repair the relationship. Turnbull met with Vice President Pence in Sydney over the weekend.
“We've had very good meetings with Vice President Pence and the Defense Secretary James Mattis just in the last few days. I look forward to continuing those discussions with President Trump and will do so at an early opportunity,” Turnbull told reporters, according to the Associated Press.