WASHINGTON (AP) — It'll be an alfresco Rose Garden soiree for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as the White House throws its first state dinner in more than a year.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are hosting Morrison for a state visit on Friday. There will be a pomp-filled arrival ceremony on the South Lawn and meetings with Trump and his staff, capped by an opulent state dinner beneath the stars in the Rose Garden, just outside the Oval Office.
Australian pro golfer Greg Norman, a friend of Trump's, told The Associated Press in a text message that he'll be among the guests.
Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp., will attend, while his father, Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch, sits out this dinner, a representative for the company said. The elder Murdoch was a guest at a White House state dinner for Australia some 13 years ago.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri is among the members of Congress who will be in attendance.
Guests will dine on a sunchoke ravioli starter, Dover sole entree and apple tart a la mode served on tables set in shades of yellows and green in tribute to the green and gold national colors of Australia, the first lady's office said Thursday. The Rose Garden will be decorated with a variety of white and yellow roses. The after-dinner entertainment will be provided by musical groups from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Beyond socializing, the leaders plan talks on military, intelligence and economic issues, especially as they relate to the Indo-Pacific region. They intend to sign a memorandum of understanding to further U.S. and Australia cooperation in space, according to a senior administration official.
Trump and Morrison also will discuss how to ensure a stable market and supply of minerals known as rare earths, which are widely used in electric cars and cellphones, the official said. They will roll out programs for the countries to work together on recycling ocean plastics, which harm marine wildlife and fishing, said the official, who was not authorized to provide details of the meetings and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Australia last received the high diplomatic honor of a U.S. state visit in 2006, when President George W. Bush feted Prime Minister John Howard.
Trump's first state visit went to French President Emmanuel Macron last year. Trump and his wife treated Macron and his wife, Brigitte, to a double date at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George Washington, the first U.S. president, on the banks of the Potomac River in northern Virginia.
Norman, an occasional golf partner of Trump's, had a key role in helping Malcolm Turnbull, Morrison's predecessor, beat other world leaders to an early telephone call with then-President-elect Trump by slipping Trump's cellphone number to Australia's ambassador to the U.S. after the November 2016 presidential election.
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson and Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.
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