US President Donald Trump has welcomed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the White House in a lavish official arrival ceremony ahead of a rare state dinner.
Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were formally introduced on the South Lawn Friday morning local time to a crowd of thousands which included onlookers, an international press pack and members of the military, in Washington D.C.
Moments later, a black vehicle pulled up, and out stepped Mr Morrison and wife Jennifer.
The pair was greeted by the Trumps before the leaders did an inspection of troops and shook hands with spectators, then watched on as the Marine Band played both the Australian and US anthems were played consecutively to coincide with a 19-gun salute.
In a speech, Mr Trump addressed Mr Morrison and lamented the countries’ “long-cherished and unwavering friendship”.
“We share common customs, common values, common dreams and common heroes,” he said.
“God bless Australia.”
Mr Trump also promised that the highly anticipated Rose Garden state dinner planned for Friday night local time would be “quite something”. The event will be the second of its kind for Mr Trump’s presidency.
Mr Morrison took to the podium and delivered a response to the president.
“Thanks mate,” he said.
“Thank you for this honour you have bestowed … with this extraordinary welcome.”
Mr Morrison said the Australian delegation brings with it the thanks and respect of 25 million Australians for the US.
The two leaders are seeking to demonstrate a strong alliance, with Mr Morrison saying the world is a better place with the US and that the two nations “see the world through the same lens”.
“We believe in the capacity of enterprise and free markets to create wealth and lift all — and for free and fair trade to bring nations closer together,” he said. “We believe that governments derive their power from the consent of the governed and that the ballot box and democracy is the surest foundation for peace and security; and we believe in the rule of law and freedom of association.
“These beliefs spurred this country to build a mighty canal; stand up to fascism and militarism; rebuild the modern world after winning a great peace; inspired the fascination, wonder and joy of the world’s children through a little mouse who could whistle a tune; took humanity to the moon; tore down a wall that separated liberty from oppression; and imagined, engineered and built a digital world that has connected humanity in a way that we now can’t imagine being without.”
Australians and Americans understand each other like few other peoples, Mr Morrison continued.
“For a century. we have done what true friends do and stick by each other.,” he said.
“You won’t find a more sure and steadfast friend, a better mate, than Australia.
“Mr President, thank you for welcoming me and Jen here as true friends.”
Mr Trump and Mr Morrison will take part in a day filled with meetings and a joint press conference. The Australian prime minister is expected to make a second speech during a lunch at the state department hosted by the vice-president, Mike Pence, and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.