U.S. ties with ally Australia were strained on Thursday over a reported acrimonious phone call between their two leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump's assertion that an existing refugee swap deal was "dumb."
Trump described the resettlement plan as "the worst deal ever," the Washington Post reported, and accused Australia of trying to export the "next Boston bombers."
The call had been scheduled to last an hour but Trump cut it short after 25 minutes when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tried to turn to subjects such as Syria, according to the newspaper.
The apparent breakdown between Washington and Canberra that has developed over the resettlement deal could have serious repercussions. Australia and the United States are among the five nations that make up the Five Eyes group, the world's leading intelligence-sharing network.
Turnbull told reporters he was surprised and disappointed that details of the call with Trump had been leaked but gave few particulars other than to deny reports Trump had hung up on him.
“As far as the call is concerned, the report that the president hung up is not correct. The call ended courteously. And as far as the nature of the discussion, it was very frank and forthright," he told a Sydney radio station on Thursday.
Turnbull declined to confirm the Post report that Trump, who has spoken to world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, had angrily told the Australian leader that the call was "the worst so far."
As reports of the phone conversation made headlines on both sides of the world, Trump tweeted shortly before midnight in Washington: "Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal."