Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull greeted warmly by Barack Obama

All smiles: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Barack Obama. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets with President of the United States Barack Obama in the Oval office of the White House. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

One US president, five PMsAmerica is stronger than ever: Malcolm Turnbull

Washington: The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, was welcomed to the White House by a Marine Corp honour guard on a freezing Washington, DC, morning, before sitting down for a 90-minute meeting followed by lunch with the US President, Barack Obama.

Marines bearing flags lined the driveway on the White House’s north lawn in minus 5 degrees on Tuesday morning as Mr Turnbull arrived from nearby Blair House, the president’s guest house.

Sitting with Mr Turnbull in the Oval Office, Mr Obama said few countries had as much in common as Australia and America.

“I want to thank all the people of Australia for the extraordinary hospitality and graciousness that they’ve shown me every time that I’ve had a chance to visit your wonderful country,” said Mr Obama in the White House.

“I’m glad to be able to reciprocate. I will note it is a little bit colder here than it was Down Under.”

Noting that Australia had made the second greatest contribution in the fight against the Islamic State of any nation, Mr Obama said that he was keen to hear Mr Turnbull’s views on progress in war against IS and violent extremism more broadly.

“We’re going to talk about how we can strengthen our cooperation, both in Syria and Iraq, the state of affairs in Afghanistan, but also countering violent extremism globally,” he said.  “And Australia will be a very important partner in that process.”

Mr Obama said he also wanted to discuss the rebalance to the Asia and Pacific region, and in particular the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a topic which Mr Turnbull has made central in his visit to the US. During a speech earlier in the day to the US Chamber of Commerce, Mr Turnbull discussed the importance of the agreement and the rise of China, and he is expected to lobby on behalf of the TPP in meetings with Congressional leaders, who have yet to approve it.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Mr Turnbull echoed the President in discussing the close ties between the US and Australia.

“Our alliance, our relationship is founded not just on national self-interest, not just on economics or kinship, but on shared values,” he said.

“We define our national identities by reference to common political values of freedom, the rule of law, democracy – real democracy, which empowers the majority, but constrains them so as to protect the minority.  So we have those strong values in common.”

He noted he had enjoyed productive meetings with US defence and intelligence, but said he was concerned that the alliance combating IS had to improve its online counter-terrorism efforts.

“Archaic and barbaric though they [the Islamic State] may be, their use regrettably of the internet is very sophisticated. And so I’m pleased that we’re going to be working on even closer collaboration there.”

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