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U.S. To Honor Deal To Take In Afghan, Iranian Refugees Held By Australia

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the United States will honor a deal with Australia to take in refugees from Iran and Afghanistan that President Donald Trump at one time derided.

In a joint news conference with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on April 22, Pence said that honoring the deal "out of respect for this enormously important alliance...doesn't mean that we admire the agreement."

Under the deal negotiated with former President Barack Obama last year, the United States is to resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers -- mostly from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan -- being held by Australia in offshore processing camps on the South Pacific islands of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

In return, Australia is to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras being held by the United States.

Pence said the asylum seekers will be subject to "extreme vetting."

Trump's relationship with longtime ally Australia got off to a rocky start during his first month in office when he called the refugee deal "dumb" in an acrimonious phone call with Turnbull that was leaked to the press and publicized around the world.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters