Ryan reaffirms support for Australia as a 'central ally'

Ryan reaffirms support for Australia as a 'central ally'
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) on Thursday went out of his way to assert that Australia remains a critical ally of the United States after reports that President Trump badgered and hung up on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a weekend phone call.

“I know Prime Minister Turnbull. He was in my office a couple months ago. He is a very important ally. Australia is a very central ally. They are and will continue to be,” Ryan told reporters during a news conference.

Later, Ryan was asked by a reporter for Australian Broadcasting Corp. if her country should be worried about its relationship with the U.S. less than two weeks after Trump took office.

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“No, I don’t think Australia should be worried about its relationship with our new president, or with our country for that matter,” Ryan replied. “I know your country well. I’ve met with your leaders continuously over the last number of years. Australia is a very important and central ally, and it continues to be.”

A Ryan spokeswoman said the Speaker had not called his Australian counterpart, Speaker Tony Smith, to try to patch things up as of early Thursday afternoon.

But on Thursday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVoto Latino CEO: Sinema will have a 'very difficult pathway' in 2024 reelection Meghan McCain rips 'selfish' Sarah Palin for dining out despite COVID-19 diagnosis Poll: Sinema approval higher among Arizona Republicans than Democrats MORE (R-Ariz.) said he reached out to the Australian ambassador to the U.S.

"I called Australia’s Ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance," McCain, a frequent Trump critic and the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, said in a statement.

Ryan wouldn’t discuss specific details that reportedly took place during the call between Trump and the leader of Australia, one of the United States's closest allies.

The new president blasted an agreement that former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaCutting through the noise of COVID risk: Real-life consequences of oversimplification Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens U.S. prestige Appeasement doesn't work as American foreign policy MORE struck with Turnbull to have the U.S. accept 1,250 refugees being kept at an Australian detention facility, calling it “the worst deal ever," according to The Washington Post.

"This was the worst call by far," Trump allegedly told Turnball, according to the Post, which reported the call was cut short.

Trump sent a late-night tweet Wednesday saying he would study the Obama-era agreement, calling it a "dumb deal."

“I think it’s important that presidents and prime ministers, heads of state, are able to have candid and private conversations with one another,” Ryan said.

Updated: 1:20 p.m.