Donald Trump is rolling out the red carpet for his mate Scott Morrison with a lavish candlelit dinner complete with violinists and no shortage of pomp and pageantry.
The event, to be hosted by President Trump and his wife Melania in the White House rose garden, is set to feature the who’s who of Australian sport, business and entertainment.
This will be the first official state dinner for an Australian prime minister since John Howard attended one with George W. Bush 13 years ago, and only President Trump’s second since he was sworn in.
Donald Trump is rolling out the red carpet for his mate Scott Morrison (pictured with wife Jenny in Washington)
It will be a lavish candlelit dinner complete with violinists (US military string band pictured ahead of the state dinner) and no shortage of pomp and pageantry
For Morrison, who became PM only 13 months ago, it’s a long way from an episode at the Engadine McDonald’s, in Sydney’s south, in 1997, which he alluded to at this week’s Mid Winter Ball in Canberra.
His local rugby league team, the Cronulla Sharks, had been defeated by the Brisbane Broncos in the Super League grand final.
‘What really happened at the Engadine McDonald’s in 1997?’ Mr Morrison told journalists and politicians at Parliament House in Canberra.
‘It will remain the mystery of the ages.’
On Saturday morning Australian time, Australian golfing great Greg Norman will be among the assembled guests, along with media mogul Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch and billionaire mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest.
President Trump has only previously hosted one state dinner before – for his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in April 2018.
Mr Morrison’s Royal Australian Air Force jet, dubbed Shark One, touched down at Andrews Air Force Base about 8.15am AEST Friday (6.15pm EDT Thursday).
This will be the first official state dinner for an Australian prime minister since John Howard attended one with George W. Bush 13 years ago, and only President Trump’s second since he was sworn in
Mr Morrison emerged from the jet hand-in-hand with wife Jenny, who stole the show in a high necked black jumpsuit, 12 minutes later.
Australia’s ambassador to the US Joe Hockey was waiting for him on the tarmac where a red carpet had been rolled out ahead of a ceremonial welcome.
The national anthems of both countries were played by a military band before the couple made their way to a podium for a brief press conference.
‘Here we are in the land of the free, the home of the brave,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘Firstly, to honour and celebrate 100 years of mateship and I particularly want to pay tribute to Ambassador Hockey and the tremendous work he’s done in his tending of that relationship here in this country.
‘And that celebrating of that 100 years of mateship. But it’s also about laying the foundation for another 100 years.
‘There are many larger, I suppose, more powerful friends that America has.
The who’s who of Australian business will be there, including media moguls Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes and billionaire mining magnates Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest
The red carpet is being rolled out for Mr Morrison as the United States and Australia celebrate 100 years of ‘mateship’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny appeared well rested after the long-haul flight
‘But they know they do not have a more sure and steadfast friend than Australia so I’m looking forward to spending time with our American friends over the next few days and celebrating our tremendous relationship.
Who will ScoMo be meeting in the US?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meeting with US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on Friday night, US time
He will also attend a lunch hosted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Vice President Mike Pence will also attend.
‘And whether it’s on our defence relationship, our security relationship, our economic relationship, our economic relationship, our partnerships around the world, whether in the Middle East or closer to home in the Indo Pacific, all of these things go together to have what, I think, is the best relationships of any two nations anywhere in the world.’
The Morrisons will be staying Blair House while in Washington.
The prime minister will meet with Mr Trump on Friday ahead of a state dinner later that night.
During the visit both leaders will sign a memorandum of understanding involving Australia assisting the US to return to the moon and a joint plan on rare earths and critical minerals.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he expects discussions about Iran to dominate the visit.
A place setting for President Donald Trump
Mr Morrison emerged from the jet hand-in-hand with wife Jenny, who was wearing a high necked black pantsuit, 12 minutes later
Prime minister Scott Morrison and wife Jenny (pictured) took a quick selfie as they arrived in Washington
The national anthems of both countries were played by a military band before the couple made their way to a podium for a brief press conference
After blaming Iran for bombing attacks on Saudi oilfields, the US has ordered new sanctions against the republic.
Mr Dutton said it was ‘a very crucial period’ to concentrate on the Middle East.
He expects Iran to be the centrepiece of the prime minister’s discussions with the US president and secretaries of defence and state.
Australia is taking part in a US-led mission to protect oil ships from Iranian strikes in the Strait of Hormuz.
‘If we see a disruption there, then we’ll see a spike in prices at the bowser here,’ Mr Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.
‘So it’s in our national interest to make sure that there is free trade, free movement of those oil tankers.’
Mr Morrison was greeted by two adorable children as he landed in Washington on Friday
His Royal Australian Air Force jet, dubbed Shark One, touched down at Andrews Air Force Base about 8.15am AEST Friday (6.15pm EDT Thursday)
The US president says he has evidence that Iran was behind the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities last weekend.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Australian government was ‘highly concerned’ about the incident.
‘But we are still assessing information,’ she told ABC radio.
‘We are in close contact with our allies and also our embassies in the region. We haven’t yet made any public attribution. I am certain this will be a topic of discussion for the prime minister’s visit to the United States’.
Ms Morrison was recently praised for her style choices after she donned a silk green jumpsuit with a flattering gold necklace and a loose curl in her locks during the annual press gallery Midwinter Charity Ball this week