US President Donald Trump said he would love the Australian Navy to join the United States in freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.
Australia has previously diplomatically avoided directly participating in the exercises, which represent statements against Chinas incursion into the international waterways and crucial maritime trade routes.
Asked if the United States would like to have Australian naval ships join the exercises, Mr Trump was effusive.
We would love to have Australia involved and I think Australia wants us to stay involved, he said.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last week said US warships, positioned in Darwin as part of the building US presence in Australias north, could conduct freedom of navigation exercises from there. But she again stopped short of advocating a direct role for Australian ships, something which would irritate Beijing.
Mr Trump extended the offer during a joint press conference with Mr Turnbull at the White House on Saturday.
The pair had just met for 90 minutes to discuss the usual issues of regional security and trade.
They swapped platitudes about the ongoing strength of the relati...