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Donald Trump, Australian PM Offer Mixed Messages on Refugee Deal

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to comment on his first telephone call with Trump as national leaders

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    Donald Trump, Australian PM Offer Mixed Messages on Refugee Deal
    AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
    In this Jan. 28, 2017, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

    Australia's prime minister insisted Thursday that a deal struck with the Obama administration that would allow mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the United States was still on, despite President Donald Trump dubbing the agreement "dumb" and vowing to review it, NBC News reported.

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    Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson has been sworn in as secretary of state during a ceremony with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Feb. 1. The Senate approved Tillerson's nomination earlier Wednesday on a vote of 56-43.
    (Published Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017)

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declined to comment on his first telephone call with Trump as national leaders. 

    "It's better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately," Turnbull told reporters. Later, however, he denied during an interview with Sydney radio station 2GB that President Trump had hung up on him, saying the conversation had ended "courteously." Turnball added: "I can assure you the relationship is very strong. 

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    Yet shortly after Turnbull made those comments to reporters, Trump took to Twitter to slam the deal. "Do you believe it?" the president wrote. "The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!"

    Later Thursday, U.S. Sen. John McCain issued a statement saying he had called Australia' ambassador to the U.S. to "express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance."