McCain Phones Australian Ambassador in Show of ‘Unwavering Support’ for Alliance

John McCain
John McCain / AP

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) phoned Australia's ambassador to the United States on Thursday to express "unwavering support" for the alliance between the two countries.

McCain made the phone call Thursday morning, he said in a statement, shortly after reports surfaced about a testy phone call between President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Washington Post reported late Wednesday that Trump criticized Turnbull over a refugee agreement between the U.S. and Australia during the phone call and ended the conversation early, among other things.

McCain did not mention the conversation between Trump and Turnbull, which took place over the weekend, in his statement, but explained that he phoned Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey on Thursday morning and asked him to "convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance."

"Australia is one of America's oldest friends and staunchest allies," McCain said. "We are united by ties of family and friendship, mutual interests and common values, and shared sacrifice in wartime."

"In that spirit, I called Australia's ambassador to the United States this morning to express my unwavering support for the U.S.-Australia alliance," the senator said. "I asked Ambassador Hockey to convey to the people of Australia that their American brothers and sisters value our historic alliance, honor the sacrifice of the Australians who have served and are serving by our side, and remain committed to the safer, freer, and better world that Australia does far more than its fair share to protect and promote."

McCain highlighted the decades-long partnership between the U.S. and Australia, noting that Australia is increasingly hosting deployments of U.S. aircraft and U.S. Marines for training.

"This deepening cooperation is a reminder that from maintaining security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region to combatting radical Islamist terrorism, the U.S-Australia relationship is more important than ever," McCain said.

Separately, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) affirmed Australia as a "very important ally" during a press conference on Thursday.

Trump alluded to reports about his calls with foreign leaders on Thursday, saying during remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, "When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it, just don't worry about it."

The Associated Press also reported this week that Trump told Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a phone call last Friday that he might send U.S. troops to stop "bad hombres down there." Officials in Mexico said that the tone of the conversation was not threatening.