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US reassures Australia of continued close ties

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SYDNEY, AP, June 5, 2017  — In their first joint appearance abroad, America’s top diplomat and its Pentagon chief offered public reassurances to a longstanding ally at odds with President Donald Trump’s abandonment of the Paris climate agreement.

With Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at his side, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a news conference Monday that Trump is interested in “perhaps a new construct of an agreement,” signaling that Trump believes the climate change issue “is still important and that he wants to stay engaged on the issue.”

“He’s not walking away from it,” Tillerson said. “He’s simply walking away from what he felt was an agreement that did not serve the American people well.”

Julie Bishop, the Australian foreign minister, deflected any suggestion of a loss of confidence in U.S. leadership, saying, “We have a similar world view, we have shared values and shared interests” in other areas.

Tillerson also took a swipe at China, criticizing what he called its militarization of disputed islets and reefs in the South China Sea and suggesting that Beijing has failed to persuade North Korea to ends it nuclear weapons program.