First Australian refugees due in US in weeks

First Australian refugees due in US in weeks
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The first group of refugees held by the Australian government and set to be resettled in the United States will arrive within weeks, signaling that a deal between the U.S. and Australia once derided by President Trump is moving forward.

The Australian government said in a statement Wednesday that the refugees would be notified in the coming days whether they are cleared for resettlement in the U.S. 

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Wednesday that he expects about 25 people, who are being held on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and the island nation Nauru, to travel to the U.S. in the next few weeks.

"There will be about 25 from both Manus and Nauru will be going to the United States," he told Australia's Seven News. "I just want to thank again President Trump for continuing with that arrangement."

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In his first call with Turnbull after entering the White House in January, Trump railed against the refugee deal, calling it a "stupid deal" that would make him look "terrible."

"Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States," Turnbull replied, according to a leaked transcript of the call published last month by The Washington Post.

The agreement was reached under the Obama administration and calls for the U.S. to accept 1,250 refugees held by Australia. In exchange, a group of Central American refugees held in Costa Rica would be resettled in Australia.

Peter Dutton, Australia's Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, said in a statement that the U.S. will make further decisions on refugees' statuses "in due course." But he also cautioned that the resettlement deal is a "one-off arrangement" and new refugees who attempt to travel to Australia by boat would not receive the same consideration.