Australia's Morrison at WH for Trump's 2nd state visit

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the East Room of the White House Friday Sept

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcomed the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, and his wife Jenny at the White House today with a grand ceremony.

More than 4,500 were in attendance for the welcoming ceremony on the White House lawn. Temporary flooring was laid over the grass.

A delegation of about 30 Chinese officials, led by Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, met counterparts at the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) office near the White House.

Prime Minister of Australia's wife Jenny Morrison (L) and Melania Trump at the White House.

On a big day for diplomacy, Morrison and his wife also worked in a State Department luncheon hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The White House took the unusual step of opening the dinner to coverage from the full White House press corps.

Almost 180 guests joined the leaders and their wives, include mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, golfer Greg Norman, chef Curtis Stone, billionaire businessman Anthony Pratt, and media barons Kerry Stokes and Lachlan Murdoch.

Trump spoke of the "unbreakable bond" between the two countries and honored the "100 years of mateship" that was celebrated last year to mark 100 years since troops from the USA and Australia fought alongside each other in World War I.


Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp., will attend, while his father, Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch sits out this dinner, a Fox representative said.

"Australia has been a tremendous partner for us as it relates to Iran's nuclear program and toward some of the challenges we face with Iran".

Morrison, who landed in Washington on Friday morning Australian time, told the Australian Financial Review (AFR) that he wants to "crack open" opportunities in the space and minerals industries.

Beyond socializing, the leaders held talks Friday on military, intelligence and economic issues, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region.

When it comes to state dinners, Trump seems to prefer being on the receiving end.

He used his toast to the state dinner to ask Donald Trump for some land to erect a life-size version of the statuette he gifted the president showing WWII digger Leslie "Bull" Allen rescuing an American soldier. By comparison, he's had state visits to Japan and Britain this year, in addition to other such visits in his first two years in office, including to Beijing on what China billed as a "state visit, plus".

Morrison is just the second world leader to be granted a state visit during the Trump administration after French President Emmanuel Macron, who was feted past year.

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