Trump to Host Australian Prime Minister on a Rare State Visit

WASHINGTON — When it comes to diplomatic visits, President Trump seems to prefer being the guest rather than the host.

Since his election in 2016, Mr. Trump has made state visits to South Korea, China, Vietnam, Japan and the United Kingdom. He has dined with the queen of England, touched orbs with the king of Saudi Arabia and met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

But until this week, only Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and his wife, Brigitte, had been invited for a state visit and the formal dinner that goes with it, compared with four leaders who had been honored at this point in the Obama administration.

On Friday, the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, will be the second.

In a briefing on Thursday, White House officials said that Mr. Morrison’s visit would underscore cooperation between the two countries on pressing matters such as Iran — last month, Australia joined an American-led effort to protect ships from Iranian threats in the critical Strait of Hormuz — intelligence sharing and a plan to reduce ocean waste, despite the Trump administration’s effort to roll back many other regulations protecting water.

Mr. Trump is fickle about his foreign allies, but he shares common ground with Mr. Morrison, who became prime minister on a populist platform and won an unlikely election victory, to the shock of his political opponents, but not to Mr. Trump, as he likes to remind the world.

“He didn’t surprise me,” Mr. Trump said when the two met in June at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan. “See, I knew him so I said, ‘He’s going to do very well.’ And he did.”

Familiar victory stories aside, there are few signs that Mr. Morrison’s visit will come with the bromancey language Mr. Trump used last year to play up a personal fondness for Mr. Macron. “I like him a lot,” Mr. Trump said of the French president during his visit that April, adding, “He is perfect.” And all signs point to a low-key visit rather than the flashy one by the Macrons.

The world then watched as that relationship quickly devolved from lingering hugs to handshakes so awkward that Mr. Macron’s thumb left an imprint at a Group of 7 gathering held two months later.

Instead, the prime minister’s visit is likely to emphasize Australia’s importance as a military and intelligence-gathering ally, particularly as Mr. Trump faces consequential decisions on the Middle East and in his trade war with China.

“We were just talking about the battles that we fought together,” Mr. Trump said in Osaka. “These are big-name battles, and they were tough battles, and we won every one of them.”

The visit from the Australians is likely to resemble a longer working visit, with the transactional approach Mr. Trump tends to prefer to ceremony.

Aside from the formal state dinner on Friday, Mr. Morrison and his wife, Jenny, will participate in a working meeting with the Trumps before Mr. Morrison is hosted by Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, and Mike Pence, the vice president, at a State Department luncheon. And on Sunday, the two leaders are scheduled to travel together to Ohio to visit an Australian-owned paper factory.

From a trade and security standpoint, experts say, welcoming Mr. Morrison will cement an alliance with Mr. Trump strong enough to hold the line with China on trade issues. For his part, Mr. Morrison told the Australian Parliament before the visit that Australia is “always prepared to do the heavy lifting when it comes to our alliance partnerships.”

Anita McBride, who served as the chief of staff to Laura Bush and as the State Department’s White House liaison, said in an interview that hosting Mr. Morrison can show other leaders around the globe that the United States is a reliable partner.

“It’s a relationship in the Asia theater that is very important,” Ms. McBride said. “There seems to be this question that our allies can’t depend on us, and this is certainly a way to dispel that.”

In an administration consumed with just getting through each president-generated news cycle of the day, the state visit is also the rare Trump White House event that requires months of planning from stakeholders across the administration, ranging from the National Security Council to the East Wing.

The state dinner, which is scheduled to be held in the Rose Garden this year, is also one of the few visible examples of the Trump administration showing an openness to taking cues from its predecessors — even the Democratic ones.

The planning for the dinner falls to Melania Trump, the first lady, and Rickie Niceta, the White House social secretary. Ms. Niceta recently met with a group of former social secretaries, including Lea Berman, who served under President George W. Bush, and Deesha Dyer, who held the job under Mr. Obama, to receive “solicited and unsolicited advice,” as Ms. Dyer put it.

The guest list, however, is likely to stay partisan. At the dinner for Mr. Macron last year, John Bel Edwards, the governor of Louisiana, was the only Democratic elected official to attend. And there will be some missing faces — a half-dozen White House officials who rounded out the 120-person guest list last year are also no longer on staff, including John R. Bolton, who was ousted last week as the national security adviser.

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