Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
February 3, 2017
U.S. President Donald Trump has plunged the United States into a dispute with Australia over the fate of 1,300 refugees primarily from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The refugees are among thousands of migrants who, fleeing conflict or poverty, are being held in camps on the Pacific islands of Nairu and Papua New Guinea, where Australia is paying to detain them rather than admit them into the country.
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, agreed to consider taking in about 1,300 migrants — most of them from Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Sudan — in exchange for Australia taking in Latin American refugees, officials said.
But Trump denounced that as a “dumb deal” this week and said he was reviewing it. He made headlines when word leaked of a contentious phone call over the weekend with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during which the two discussed the matter.
The Washington Post reported on February 2 that Trump called the agreement the “worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers.”
Trump has suggested since then that he is still mulling whether to honor the deal, but Turnbull insists that Trump agreed to it out of respect for the strong ties between the countries.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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