3 Feb 2017

Australia-US refugee deal remains alive

7:42 am on 3 February 2017

The White House says President Donald Trump will honour a US agreement with Australia to accept refugees housed on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru although he is unhappy about the deal.

President Donald Trump signs Executive Orders in the Hall of Heroes at the Department of Defense in Virginia.

President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP

Spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters the deal that was cut by the last administration is something that Mr Trump is extremely, extremely upset with, and he does not like it.

Mr Spicer said that out of respect for Australia and its prime minister, Malcom Turnbull, Mr Trump would allow the process to go forward but with "extreme vetting" of the refugees.

He also gave a different assessment of Saturday's phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Turnbull that was described in media reports as volatile, telling reporters it was "cordial" and the president has tremendous respect for the Mr Turnbull and the Australian people.

Earlier Mr Trump had described the agreement to swap refugees with Australia as a dumb deal.

Mr Trump tweeted on Thursday evening (New Zealand time) that he would personally study the deal which was agreed by the Obama administration at the end of last year.

He questioned "Do you believe it?" and said "I will study this dumb deal!"

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