Malcolm Turnbull takes selfie with US President Barack Obama in 'great but sad moment'
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the US alliance is “stronger than ever” thanks to Barack Obama’s leadership after the pair met for the final time before Donald Trump takes over the White House in January.
The two men enjoyed a warm, 50-minute meeting at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation in Lima, Peru, affirming a mutual commitment to free trade and discussing security issues including the South China Sea and the fight against ISIS.
Mr Turnbull emerged from the closed door talks to take a “farewell selfie” with Mr Obama, which he posted to social networks including Facebook and Instagram, and later described the outgoing President as “remarkable leader” of the world.
“It’s a great moment but a sad moment to have our last meeting in your capacity as President of the United States,” he said in a set of public remarks following the meeting. “Our alliance has got stronger than ever,” he said, adding that it was based on “shared values” and a determination to work together around the world “in freedom’s cause”.
Mr Turnbull thanked the outgoing US president for his co-operation on “so many issues” including “resettlement issues in our own region”, namely the agreement to resettle a number of refugees currently on Nauru and Manus Island who tried to come to Australia by boat.
Mr Obama said the “strong alignment of interests” between the two countries made for an unusually agreeable dialogue. “It’s not often where I have a meeting and I’ve got nothing to disagree with … usually there’s something to keep us busy,” he said.
Both men spoke in favour of open markets and free trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, in contrast to the protectionist rhetoric promulgated by President-elect Donald Trump, who is expected to scuttle the deal.
“We’ve agreed, as we have with the other leaders here, the importance of making the case for open markets repeatedly and more persuasively now than ever,” Mr Turnbull said. He promised to “make the case in our own national interest” and would wait to see what Mr Trump did in office.
Mr Obama promised a “strong hand-off” to the incoming Trump administration, which was this week finalising key strategic and cabinet appointments. Mr Turnbull said he was “very impressed” by Mr Obama’s willingness to engage positively with Mr Trump following the bitter and divisive US election.
“It’s a momentous occasion when one president hands over to another. It’s a point in history,” Mr Turnbull said at a later press conference. “President Obama has been a remarkable leader of the United States and indeed leader of the world for eight years. There’s an element of sadness there but a great sense of achievement too.
“We’ve always got on very well at a personal level, I guess you’ve probably worked that out.” At last year’s APEC summit President Obama caught Mr Turnbull by surprise with an invitation to the White House.
Mr Turnbull also met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of this year’s APEC summit. He will return to Australia on Monday.
The story Malcolm Turnbull takes selfie with US President Barack Obama in ‘great but sad moment’ first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.