The US Pacific Command says the US alliance with Australia remains strong and discussions are proceeding to send a full Marine Air-Ground Task Force of 2500 Marines to Darwin by 2020.
Major Rob Shuford, a spokesman for US Pacific Command, said: “No changes have been made to the planned rotations of Marines to Australia since the two leaders spoke.”
Major Shuford was referring to the angry exchange over the phone between US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the “dumb deal” by the Obama administration to accept 1250 refugees held in offshore detention centres.
Trump’s tough rhetoric raised the prospect of a rift with Australia and sparked concerns over the future of US plans to expand its Marine presence in Darwin.
NT Chamber of Commerce acting CEO Brian O'Gallagher emphasised the importance of the US-Australia alliance to the Territory. "Hopefully this is just a hiccup and what we are seeing is nothing more than the newness of a leader who is trying to impress those people who voted him to the Presidency."