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No new defence agreement underway with US: Turnbull

turnbull and trump
Image via Twitter @PMoffice

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed Australia would be spared by US President Donald Trump’s new steel and aluminium tariffs, but a comment from the tweet-happy President raised eyebrows over whether a new defence and security agreement is part of the deal.

In a Saturday tweet, the President confirmed he has spoken with Turnbull, who was "committed to having a very fair and reciprocal military and trade relationship".

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"Working very quickly on a security agreement so we don't have to impose steel or aluminium tariffs on our ally, the great nation of Australia!" President Trump tweeted.

Turnbull has since had to shoot down questions of whether Australia had agreed to offer something in return for the exemption, with much of the attention turning towards the mention of the nations' military relationships and the US's ambitions for freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.

"The reference in his tweet is simply shorthand for completing the legal documentation, the proclamation, that has to be done in accordance with the executive order," Turnbull told reporters at Port Kembla.

"I know exactly what was discussed and there is no request for any change or addition to our security arrangements."

Australia currently purchases more than half of its warfighting assets from the US, as well as sharing intelligence as part of the Five Eyes alliance.

The tarrifs, which saw 25 per cent imposed on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, have been welcomed by Australian steel manufacturers like BlueScope and have offered assurances the US-Australia alliance is as strong as ever, according to Turnbull.

"The US imports into Australia have zero tariffs. It can not get any better," the Prime Minister said. "That is as level a playing field as you could imagine and the US has a big trade surplus with us, we’re not complaining about that. In terms of our security and military arrangements and intelligence arrangements, they’re close as they possibly could be. As you know, we work side-by-side, hand-in-glove, with our allies in the US all the time, right around the world."

No new defence agreement underway with US: Turnbull
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