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Turnbull says Trump promised him exemption on metals tariffs

[SYDNEY] Australia has secured an exemption from metals tariffs announced last week by US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the media.

Mr Trump confirmed the exemption in an early Saturday morning call between the two leaders, Mr Turnbull said. He said the conversation also touched on the security alliance between the US and Australia, as well as possible talks between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"I was very pleased the president was able to confirm that he would not have to impose tariffs on Australian steel and aluminum," Mr Turnbull said.

"It was a very good and productive discussion with the president."

Mr Turnbull said the two leaders discussed the importance of a "fair and reciprocal" trade relationship between Australia and the US.

"The US has a big trade surplus with Australia," Mr Turnbull said.

"We talked about the military and security relationship, how strong that is. Each of has no stronger ally."

On North Korea, Mr Turnbull said he agreed with Mr Trump that there must be no relenting on the economic pressure that brought North Korea to the negotiating table.

Mr Trump plans to meet with Mr Kim within months after accepting an invitation from the North Korean leader.

"We can welcome this cautiously, but I emphasise caution," Mr Turnbull said.

"There have been many false dawns before, so the critical thing is to maintain that economic pressure."

Mr Turnbull said that while he is looking forward to progress on the talks between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, "sanctions must remain in full force, rigorously enforced until such time the regime starts to denuclearise."