Mike Pence, the American vice president, confirmed on Saturday that his country would honour an agreement with Australia over resettling refugees that Donald Trump once described as "dumb".
Meeting at the governor-general's residence with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour and the city's famed opera house, Mr Pence and Malcolm Turnbull, Australia's prime minister, appeared at pains to present a united front following an unusual period of strain between the long-time allies.
The anxieties arose from a spat between Mr Turnbull and Mr Trump over a refugee resettlement deal struck by Barack Obama.
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
But Mr Pence said on Saturday that the US would honour the agreement, even if the administration didn't agree with it. Under the deal, America would take up to 1,250 refugees housed by Australia in detention camps on the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Mr Trump's anger over the agreement led to a tense phone call with Mr Turnbull in January, and an angry tweet in which the president called the deal "dumb".
"President Trump has made it clear that we'll honour the agreement. That doesn't mean we admire the agreement," Mr Pence said during a joint news conference with Mr Turnbull.
The prime minister, for his part, said that "whatever the reservations of the president are", the decision "speaks volumes for the commitment, the integrity of President Trump, and your administration, sir, to honour that commitment."
The fallout over the deal has strained the typically cosy alliance between America and Australia. A majority of Australians view Mr Trump unfavorably, and some of his critics have urged Australia to distance itself from America in favour of stronger ties with China.
Mr Turnbull has resisted pressure to choose between the two countries, both of which are considered vital allies. The US is Australia's most important security partner, while China is its most important trading partner.
Mr Pence's visit Down Under, part of his 10-day, four-country trip to the Pacific Rim, was widely viewed as an effort to smooth over relations with Australia. Indeed, the vice president seemed determined to reassure Australia of its importance to the US, noting as he stood next to Mr Turnbull on the shores of Sydney harbour: "It's always heartening to stand beside a friend, and I do so today."
The two joined forces to urge China to take a greater role in pressuring North Korea to rethink its nuclear weapons and missile programme.
Mr Pence and Malcolm Turnbull repeatedly praised the decades-long American-Australian alliance following a meeting in Sydney. The vice president passed along President Trump's "very best regards" and thanked Mr Turnbull for calling on Beijing to be more assertive in the international effort to de-escalate Pyongyang's nuclear threat.
Both leaders also repeatedly cited the nations' long history of military cooperation. Australia has fought alongside the US in every major conflict since the First World War, and is one of the largest contributors to the US-led military campaign in Iraq and Syria.
Mr Pence said his trip to Australia during the administration's first three months in office and Mr Trump's plans to travel to Asia next autumn represented "a strong sign of our enduring commitment to the historic alliance between the people of the United States of America and the people of Australia".
Mr Pence and Mr Turnbull said they were aligned in their opinion that China should use its leverage with North Korea to de-escalate the nuclear threat from Pyongyang. Mr Pence said the US believes that it will be possible to achieve its objective of ending North Korea's nuclear programme peacefully, largely with the help of China.
Mr Turnbull echoed the sentiments, saying: "The eyes of the world are on Beijing."
Congratulations President Trump @POTUS We are steadfast allies & trusted friends with a great future ahead of us. We wish you every success.— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) January 21, 2017
Mr Pence said that while the Trump administration had pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it still considered its bilateral trade deal with Australia to be a "model" and a "win-win" for both countries.
The alliance was front-and-centre for Mr Pence in his meetings with top Australian officials, who repeatedly noted their military partnership for nearly a century. Governor-general Peter Cosgrove, seated with Mr Pence, said the relationship between the countries was as strong as it was since "the first time we saw each other on the battlefield in 1919".
Mr Pence used the visit to make a number of cultural stops, joining the foreign minister Julie Bishop at the Australian Museum, observing exhibits on crocodiles and snakes, and listening as one of the museum's managers offered a traditional Highlands welcome of Papua New Guinea.
On Sunday, Mr Pence and his family were to tour Sydney's Opera House, take a boat ride in the harbour and visit the city's Taronga Zoo.