Australia says its citizens exempt from US travel ban

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SYDNEY: The US travel ban will not apply to Australian passport holders, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Tuesday after Britain also won an exemption for its citizens.

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Canberra has refused to criticise US President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies that have sparked international uproar since Friday’s move to suspend refugee arrivals and impose tough controls on visitors from seven Muslim countries.

Australian “passport holders regardless of their place of birth or whether they are dual nationals or whether they hold another passport will remain welcome to come and go to the United States in the usual way,” Turnbull said.

“I’ve just received that official confirmation,” he told Sky News Australia.

“That means Australian passport holders will be able to travel to the United States in the same way as they were able to,” before the ban was issued on January 27.

“The confirmation came from the White House, it came from the National Security Adviser General (Michael) Flynn.”

Turnbull has come under fire at home for keeping quiet as world leaders hit out at the new US administration’s temporary bans on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“My job as prime minister of Australia is to advance the national interest of Australia and protect the interest of Australians citizens,” he said.

“When I need to give frank advice, fearless advice to the US government I do so privately, but I don’t comment on American domestic policy publicly.

“My job is to get results for Australians,” he said.

The prime minister went on to praise ties with the United States and Trump.

“We have a very strong relationship with the United States, we work very closely with them,” he said.

“We have very strong relations with the new administration.”

Turnbull had Monday announced that Trump would honour a deal struck under his predecessor to accept refugees from remote Pacific camps.

In November, Canberra negotiated a “one-off” deal with the outgoing Obama administration to settle an unspecified number of the 1,600 boatpeople Australia held in offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Rights groups and the United Nations criticise Canberra for keeping boatpeople in offshore detention and blocking their resettlement in Australia, even if found to be refugees. AFP

AFP/CC

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