Pence raises a glass to defence troops

Belinda Tasker
Pence raises a glass to defence troops

US Vice President Mike Pence has taken time out from his high-level talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to share lunch with leaders from Australia's business, arts and defence sectors.

Mr Pence was joined by his wife Karen for an informal lunch at Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove's official Sydney residence Admiralty House shortly after ending his bilateral talks with Mr Turnbull at the neighbouring Kirribilli House.

As police helicopters hovered overhead, Mr Pence mingled on the perfectly manicured harbourside lawn with the likes of Qantas boss Alan Joyce, Telstra chairman John Mullen, the Australian Ballet's artistic director David McAllister and indigenous elder Uncle Vic Simms as they sipped champagne and nibbled on canapes.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Defence Minister Marise Payne were also on hand, along with Opposition foreign spokeswoman Penny Wong.

Former Labor leader and ambassador to the US, Kim Beazley, and representatives from Australia's defence force were also present.

Sir Peter led a toast to the president and people of the United States before Mr Pence told the crowd he "had to come to Australia" as part of his first visit to the Asia Pacific region as vice president.

"We have an unwavering commitment to one another and it has been the foundation of security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific for generations," he said.

Mr Pence said it was humbling to be in Sydney three days before Anzac Day, noting that his father had served in the Korean War and his son was a US Marine.

"To think about the sacrifices of those who have gone before us ... it is remarkable to think ... from World War One and Two to Korean and Vietnam and recently in Iraq and Afghanistant, to think how our grandparents, parents and now sons and daughters have served together," he said before toasting Australia's servicemen and women.

Mr Pence also said he' like to "raise a glass" the queen - a day after her 91st birthday - and the "good people" of Australia.

Mr Pence earlier praised the relationship between Australia and the US during his talks with Mr Turnbull.

The pair discussed the security situation in North Korea and of their desire to strengthen trade ties.

Mr Pence will meet Opposition Leader Bill Shorten later this afternoon before holding talks with business leaders.

He arrived in Sydney on Friday night for a two-day official visit as part of a 10-day tour of the Asia Pacific.