Australian PM says premature to discuss about any potential China trip

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SYDNEY, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday said it was premature to discuss any potential trips to China, days after he met President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia.

“What we have had this week is first steps and I’m not getting ahead of myself,” Albanese said at a media briefing during the APEC summit in Bangkok.

Australia has clashed with China – its largest trading partner – over trade disputes and the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The recently elected Labor government has been looking to repair the strained diplomatic relations. 

“We will continue to … take steps forward together,” he said after reporters sought his comments on his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, getting an invitation to visit Beijing after her meeting with Xi Jinping on Friday. 

The New Zealand government said in a statement both leaders have confirmed a visit by Ardern to China “would occur at a mutually agreeable time.”

Albanese also said Australia’s position has not changed on Taiwan’s efforts to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. He said all applications would be dealt with on their merits.

CPTPP is a free trade agreement that links Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

(Reporting by Renju Jose. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


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