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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull sidesteps questions about his reported tense phone conversation with US President Donald Trump. Turnbull adds that he stands up for the Australian people. Video: Fuzion Indigo

By Cristiano Lima

President Donald Trump has criticised a deal by the Obama administration to take in spurned refugees from Australia, tweeting that he planned to study the “dumb deal”.

“Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia,” Trump said on Twitter. “Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

The “illegal immigrants” Trump references are predominantly Muslim refugees who are seeking asylum and have been resettled in island camps on the Pacific nations of Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The Manus Island camp was declared illegal by PNG’s Supreme Court last year.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration agreed to take in an unspecified number of the refugees — which have been variously reported to total from 1600 to 3000 in number — after they were refused by Australia.

The tweet came after Trump reportedly spoke with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the phone on Saturday.

The Washington Post reported earlier Wednesday that during the conversation Trump described the refugee agreement as “the worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers,” a reference to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two Kyrgyzstan-born American citizens behind the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured over 260 people.

The report also claimed Trump abruptly ended their conversation after telling the Australian prime minister that of all the conversations he had had with world leaders that day, “This is the worst call by far.”

In a follow-up by the Associated Press, the prime minister declined to comment on the report.

“It’s better that these things — these conversations — are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,” Turnbull said.

The Australian leader also reiterated that that the relationship between Australia and the U.S. remained “very strong”.

Cristiano Lima is a journalist for Politico Magazine published under the slogan “Powerful journalism – powerful audience”.