Prime Minister Scott Morrison has assured US President Donald Trump he won't find a "better mate" than Australia as he arrives at the White House.
At a welcome ceremony on the South Lawn on Friday, Mr Morrison said that he and Mr Trump established a “very early understanding”.
“No two peoples in the world make friends easier than ours.
“Your respect for Australia, Mr President, your personal encouragement and the example afforded by your passion for what makes America great - makes ours a very easy connection.”
After listing America’s achievements from rebuilding the “modern world after winning a great peace” to the creation of Mickey Mouse, Mr Morrison varied his oft-repeated refrain declaring: "How great is America!"
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Donald Trump share a joke during speeches. Source: AP
Both leaders made reference to the Apollo 11 moon landing and Australia's role in broadcasting the historic event, raising hopes of more discussions about new opportunities for Australia's space agency.
In his speech, Mr Trump thanked Australia for its "vital contribution".
“Together our people have laid down their lives to protect our civilization from tyranny. We have pioneered some of the most remarkable advances in human history. Every shared endeavor, we have shown the world what it truly means to be friends, mates, allies.”
The prime minister assured his US counterpart he may meet more powerful leaders, but would not find a “better mate” than Australia.
President Donald Trump speaks as Scott Morrison, Jenny Morrison (left) and Melania Trump listen. Source: AP
Mr Morrison, who is the first Australian leader to make an official visit to the US since John Howard in 2006, quoted former US Presidents Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt during his speech as he emphasised the closeness of the two countries' alliance.
"When President Reagan welcomed another Australian Prime Minister, on this lawn, he reminded us 'liberty is not an inevitable state and there is no law which guarantees that once achieved it will survive'.”
Pearls and statue for the Trumps
Mr Morrison came bearing gifts for the US President and First Lady.
He brought a statue of an Australian corporal who received a US military award for Mr Trump and pearl earrings for his wife Melania.
The bronze figurine of Corporal Leslie ‘Bull’ Allen, an infantry stretcher bearer who carried 12 American casualties to safety in New Guinea in 1943 was especially made by Mudgee sculptor Scott Edwards.
The two leaders have previously discussed the Australian corporal’s efforts.
Melania Trump received a pair of Paspaley classic stud pearl earrings, worth more than $1,000.
Vice President Mike Pence received RM Williams boots while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was given an Akubra.
The ceremony was the beginning of a packed day on Friday in the US with top-level meetings at the White House, including a one-on-one with Mr Trump before being joined by most of the US cabinet.
Top of the agenda is expected to be Australia’s involvement in freedom of navigation exercises in the Strait of Hormuz near Iran and the US-China trade war.
Australia and the US are celebrating a century of the alliance. Source: AAP
Mr Morrison is expected to use his lunchtime speech at the State Department to stress Australia is a "reliable economic partner" and point out that the US enjoys a trade surplus.
A champion of protectionist trade policies, Mr Trump has made his displeasure at the US's multi-billion dollar trade deficit, particularly when it comes to China.
"All US exports enter Australia tariff-free and quota-free. You can’t get a better deal than that. We are the gold standard of US trade partners," Mr Morrison was expected to say.
The prime minister will also pledge to continue to take "an even stronger stand against the biased and unfair targeting of Israel in the UN General Assembly."