US VP in whirlwind weekend visit to Sydney
North Korea, the war in Syria and trade are all expected to be discussed during US Vice President Mike Pence’s whirlwind weekend visit to Australia.
America’s second most powerful man after US President Donald Trump is due to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, senior government officials and business leaders in Sydney on Saturday.
Observers believe Mr Pence will also use his time in Sydney to smooth relations between Washington and Canberra following Mr Trump’s outburst at Australia’s planned asylum-seeker deal during his notorious phone call with Mr Turnbull in January.
Mr Pence’s visit is part of a 10-day tour of the Asia Pacific, during which he has visited South Korea, Japan and Indonesia.
During his first official tour to the region, Mr Pence has been keen to emphasise the commitment by the US to its alliances and partnerships in the region.
“The truth is President Trump’s election has created a need to reassure allies about Mr Trump’s intentions,” Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove told AAP.
“Mr Pence is a traditional conservative Republican who has an alliance-centric view of the world and I think the purpose of his mission is to telegraph continuity to Japan and Korea, Australia and Indonesia.
“The reason to do that is we have a president who for three decades has held to a very different world view, who has basically decried the global liberal order, who’s shown himself to be hostile to free trade, someone who is sceptical of alliances and suspicious of institutions like the United Nations.”
Mr Pence will be accompanied by his wife Karen and their two daughters Audrey and Charlotte.