Indonesia, Trump Administration Strengthen Economic Ties

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Sydney for a weekend visit that will include meetings with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other top officials.

Regional security and North Korea will be at the heart of discussions between Malcolm Turnbull and Mike Pence when the U.S. vice president touches down in Sydney.

Some major USA companies have been in the spotlight in Indonesia for unfortunate reasons in recent months: Alphabet Inc.'s Google is being pressed to pay more in taxes, and the government has cut ties with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. over an unfavorable research report.

Under the agreement, the US would take up to 1,250 refugees that Australia houses in detention camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Pence landed in Australia late on Friday, his fourth stop on a 10-day tour of USA allies in the Asia-Pacific region that has included a series of roundtables with business executives in South Korea, Japan, and Indonesia.

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Southeast Asia's largest economy ran a surplus with the United States of $13 billion a year ago, largely via exports of textiles, footwear, fishery products and natural resources. "I spoke with him first thing and he wanted me to pass along his very best regards", Mr Pence said on Saturday.

Mr Pence held talks with a select group of 10 businessmen and women, including Westfield boss Steven Lowy and the head of Macquarie Group Nicholas Moore. Pence has sought to reassure allies in the region that the U.S.is still committed to trade and economic ties despite Trump's decision on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Indonesia has a commercial superavit of some 13 billion dollars with the United States and is one of 16 countries that Trump called to investigate at the beginning of this month due to the uneven trade relations.

FILE - In this April 11, 2017, file photo, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull takes a tour during a four day visit in Mumbai, India.

The fallout has left relations between the USA and Australia at their lowest point since the Vietnam War, when Australia's then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam criticized a series of bombings authorized by then-President Richard Nixon.

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Pence will emphasize the long-term partnership between the two countries on defense and the economy, even as Australia eyes the merits of developing a closer relationship with China, a White House foreign policy adviser said.

"Since then. Australia has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in every major conflict in the past 99 years".

Cosgrove says the alliance that started during World War I "started an unbreakable relationship".

There's also been plenty of confusion about regional trade after Trump scratched plans for the United States to sign off on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which included Australia, Japan and 10 other countries, saying it would lead to United States job losses.

The timing of his Australia visit comes against a backdrop of North Korea's nuclear ambitions and increasing tensions between the USA and Russian Federation over the Syrian war.

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