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Sen. John McCain visits Australia for security talks

  • AAP IMAGE VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    U.S. Sen. John McCain, left, was met by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on the floor of Parliament House in Canberra on Monday.

SYDNEY >> U.S. Sen. John McCain met with Australian leaders on Monday for security talks in the nation’s capital, where he received praise for his public support of the decades-long U.S.-Australia alliance following a diplomatic spat between the two countries earlier this year.

In February, the Republican senator leaped to Australia’s defense after President Donald Trump got into a heated discussion with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over an Obama-era agreement on the resettlement of refugees.

When reports of the testy conversation went public, McCain quickly reached out to Australia’s ambassador to the U.S., and publicly praised Australia for its long history of military cooperation with the U.S. Australia has fought alongside America in every major conflict since World War I, and is one of the largest contributors to the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with the senator in the nation’s capital, Canberra, where she made a point to thank him.

“Thank you for your very strong words of support for the alliance earlier this year,” Bishop told McCain. “We deeply appreciated it. It was wonderful to hear it from you.”

McCain told Bishop, “We’re certainly in very interesting times.”

Later, McCain received a warm welcome in Parliament House, where Turnbull praised the Vietnam War veteran for his service.

“As a prisoner of war for 5 1/2 years, he selflessly — despite torture and cruelty — refused to be transferred back to the United States in advance of his colleagues,” Turnbull said in an address to lawmakers. “True leadership. True grit. True courage.”

McCain, who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was scheduled to visit the Australian War Memorial later Monday.

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