Pence expected to discuss security, trade with Turnbull

A rally against US Vice-President Mike Pence's visit in Sydney yesterday. Mr Pence's trip to the Asia-Pacific region is the first by a senior official in the Trump administration.
A rally against US Vice-President Mike Pence's visit in Sydney yesterday. Mr Pence's trip to the Asia-Pacific region is the first by a senior official in the Trump administration.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • United States Vice-President Mike Pence is expected to discuss trade and regional security when he meets Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today, Australian officials said.

Mr Pence arrived in Australia late yesterday for the last stop of his 10-day tour of US allies in the Asia-Pacific region that has included a series of round-table talks with leading business executives in South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.

In Indonesia yesterday, he announced US$10 billion (S$14 billion) in deals between American and Indonesian companies, as he pushed for greater access to Southeast Asia's top economy.

Eleven deals were signed. Energy firm Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin were among the American companies involved in the agreements.

Mr Pence's trip to the region is the first by a senior official in President Donald Trump's administration as the US looks to strengthen economic ties and security cooperation amid disputes in the South China Sea and tension on the Korean peninsula.

"The Vice-President has met or spoken with several ministers and they spoke of the strong commitment to continuing the relationship with Australia, so the Prime Minister will enjoy the chance to talk about opportunities for building on that partnership," said one official in Mr Turnbull's office.

Mr Pence will meet Australian business executives in Sydney today, following similar meetings in Seoul, Tokyo and Jakarta that have been thick with executives from Fortune 100 companies.

His message at each of those stops was to reassure political and business leaders that Mr Trump's "America First" policy meant the US was open to foreign investment, and that his administration wanted to work with business leaders to knock down barriers for US products.

While in Australia, Mr Pence and his family will meet some local wildlife, including the koala, at Sydney's zoo, take a harbour cruise and tour the world-famous Sydney Opera House.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Pence expected to discuss security, trade with Turnbull'. Print Edition | Subscribe