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Trump returns to NYC for Intrepid museum event

President Donald Trump met with Australian Prime Minister

President Donald Trump met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Brendan Smialowski

President Donald Trump’s long-awaited homecoming Thursday was met with heightened security from the NYPD and a number of protests, as the world watched the first face-to-face encounter between the president and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since an acrimonious phone call that strained ties between the two allies.

Trump arrived at Kennedy Airport around 6:15 p.m. for a private event aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a World War II naval battle fought by U.S. and Australian forces against the Japanese. 

Declaring they "get along great" Trump and Turnball were all smiles in their black-tie tuxedos as they prepared to attend the dinner together. 

Trump opened his speech by welcoming Turnball to New York before acknowledging the phone call from January, admitting it "got a little bit testy...but we have a very good relationship and I'm very proud of our relationship."

Turnbull was one of the first foreign leaders Trump spoke to after taking office on Jan. 20. Trump was irritated that he was expected to honor an agreement made by former President Barack Obama to accept 1,250 refugees.

Trump had broken off what was supposed to be an hour-long call after 25 minutes and later tweeted that the refugee agreement was a "dumb deal" and vowed to study it. The call aroused criticism and raised questions about his diplomatic skills.

Vice President Mike Pence visited Australia in April and made clear that while Trump was not happy about it, the United States would honor the agreement out of respect for Australia.

"We can put the refugee deal behind you and move on," Turnbull said during a meeting prior to the dinner.

This was Trump's first visit to New York City since his inauguration on Jan. 20. His motorcade passed hundreds of protesters as it arrived at the Intrepid, a repurposed aircraft carrier at Pier 86 in the Hudson River.

The NYPD corralled protesters and Trump supporters into partisan pens, but it did little to stop the two parties from squabbling.

Back at Trump Tower, the president's former home was surrounded with a heavy police presence that included a fleet of six DSNY trucks parked directly in front of the Fifth Avenue building. But a planned protest nearby turned out a smaller crowd than anticipated, with only about 360 protesters.

Unlike the president’s weekend trips to his private Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, his New York homecoming was short-lived, as he chose to stay the weekend at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, instead.

Trump recently said during a Fox News interview that he hasn't returned to New York City because of the expense on taxpayers and the inconvenience of street closures. 

". . . I hate to see the New Yorkers with the streets closed, and I've been there because I've been there when presidents have come to New York City," he told Fox News' Martha MacCallum during the April 28 interview. "And they close up, you know, the entire midtown section of Manhattan. I don't know if it's all necessary, so I go back as little as possible because it's expensive. . ."

On Sunday, a federal spending agreement was reached that includes a full reimbursement for the funds New York City spent on securing Trump Tower and keeping the newly elected president's family safe during his transition. 

"We are getting what we are owed," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Monday. "That's good news for our city and the hardworking police officers faced with this unprecedented security challenge."

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill worked for several months with New York's congressional delegation to have the funds included in the deal, he said.

A request for comment from de Blasio's office regarding Trump's visit was not immediately returned. 

With Newsday and Reuters

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