Australia has been urged to "work around" US President Donald Trump in order to avoid the chaos and dysfunction of the latest tenant of the White House.

Lowy Institute executive director Dr Michael Fullilove says he has no doubt the Trump presidency is "failing", describing the US President as "the lord of misrule".

He said the Trump presidency had profound implications for Australia and the rest of the world. However the answer didn't lie in ridiculing it but finding fresh ways of engaging with it.

"There are plenty of honourable, professional officials in the US government and I think what we have to do is try to work around the President, work with them, work with other countries, work with other capitals, work with other institutions," Fullilove told the National Press Club yesterday.


The most recent Lowy poll found 60 per cent of Australians say Trump causes them to have an unfavourable opinion of the US. And the number who trust America a great deal to act responsibly in the world has halved from 40 per cent to 20 per cent. However, more than three-quarters of Australians still say the alliance is either very or fairly important for Australia's security.

"A lot of Australians will find the prospect of dealing with, working with, Trump distasteful but we need to grimace and bear it," Fullilove said. "The alternative - to turn away from the United States and let Mr Trump's instincts have full rein - would be self-defeating."

Global institutions such as the G20 and the role of other world leaders would be even more important in reining in "an individual who is erratic and unpleasant but also the most powerful person on earth". Fullilove said: "We must do what we can in conjunction with our friends to stop America from going full Trump."

Fullilove said the chances of Trump using military force to interrupt North Korea's missile programme are low. He says the US President has so far shown himself to be "cautious" about the use of force.

Even in the case of Syria's chemical weapons, the President endorsed a Tomahawk missile strike which was a classic tool for "signalling something without taking big risks".

He said it was likely US military officials would give Trump the same advice given to previous presidents - that the risks and costs of such action vastly exceed the likelihood of success.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US does not blame China for escalating tensions with North Korea and would like to seek a dialogue with Kim Jong Un's regime.

His diplomatic tone directly contradicted Trump, who tweeted two days ago that he was "very disappointed" with China and accused Beijing of doing "nothing" over Pyongyang's military ambitions.


Tillerson said that relations between the US and China were "at a bit of a pivot point", but that Washington had "sought to partner" with Beijing over the growing threat from North Korea.

"We do not seek a regime change, we do not seek a collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th Parallel," Tillerson said in a rare press address at the State Department. "We are not your enemy ... but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond. We hope that at some point they will begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them."

China has become increasingly frustrated with US and Japanese criticism that it should do more to rein in Pyongyang.

Meanwhile in Washington, the White House defended Trump's involvement in issuing a statement about his son's meeting with a Russian lawyer during the election campaign.

"The statement that Don jnr issued is true. There's no inaccuracy in the statement," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"The President weighed in just as any father would based on the limited information that he had. This is all discussion, frankly, of no consequence."


The comments seem to confirm that Trump participated in the drafting of the statement on Air Force One and contradict past statements from Trump's lawyers denying that he had any involvement.

"The President was not - did not - draft the response," Trump's lawyer Jay Sekulow said on July 16. "The response came from Donald Trump jnr and - I'm sure - in consultation with his lawyer."

While Sanders denied that Trump "dictated" the document, she acknowledged that he "weighed in and offered suggestions" on a statement that claimed that in the meeting, Trump jnr and other participants "primarily discussed a programme about the adoption of Russian children".

That statement turned out to be misleading.

Emails obtained by the New York Times and subsequently released by Trump jnr later showed that the meeting was pitched to Trump's son as one about derogatory information about Hillary Clinton.

That disclosure prompted Trump jnr to correct his public statements.


In addition to Trump jnr, the President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and campaign manager Paul Manafort also attended the meeting. Kushner did not initially disclose the meeting on the government forms he was required to fill out to join the Administration.

Yet Sanders claimed yesterday that the meeting was "was disclosed to the proper authorities". Trump worked with aides on the statement on Air Force One while returning to the US from the G20 Summit in Hamburg. He insisted that the statement describe the meeting as unimportant. In reality, Trump jnr had enthusiastically agreed to attend the meeting after being promised damaging information on Clinton as part of the Russian Government's efforts to help his father's campaign.

- AAP, Telegraph Group Ltd, Washington Post