Australian leader says Trump agrees alliance is important

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) " Donald Trump agreed on the importance of the U.S. military alliance with Australia and the importance of the U.S. military presence to the security of the Asia-Pacific region, Australia's prime minister said on Thursday after his first telephone conversation with the U.S. President-elect.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Trump "appreciates, honors" and "admires" the 65-year-old bilateral defense pact that requires the security partners to consult if either comes under attack but does not commit them to come to the other's defense.

"We absolutely agreed on the pivotal importance of our strong alliance," Turnbull told reporters, adding that U.S. and Australian troops had fought side by side in every major conflict for the past 98 years.

"We discussed the vital importance of the United States' continued strong presence in our region and we agreed that that presence has been an absolutely essential foundation of the peace and stability that has enabled the remarkable growth and prosperity, the remarkable economic growth we have seen over the last 40 years," Turnbull added.

Australia and the United States last month struck a cost-sharing deal to pay for more than $1.5 billion in infrastructure to accommodate up to 2,500 U.S.

Marines at a northern Australian training hub at Darwin.

Turnbull would not say whether Trump planned to continue to increase the U.S. military buildup in Australia during "warm" and "very frank" discussions.

Turnbull, a self-made businessman worth an estimated $150 million, said their shared business backgrounds were discussed and they plan to meet soon.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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