Australian PM hails ‘constructive’ talk with China’s Li

Published Mon, Nov 14, 2022 · 06:51 AM

AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Sunday hailed a “positive” meeting with Chinese premier Li Keqiang – the first in-person encounter between leaders of the two countries since 2019.

Albanese, whose Labor government is keen to scrape the ice off of Canberra’s frosty relationship with Beijing, spoke to Li at a gala dinner on Saturday night at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Phnom Penh.

“I had a great conversation with Premier Li. It was very positive and constructive,” Albanese told reporters on Sunday.

Ties with Beijing had hit an all-time low in recent years under the previous conservative government in Australia.

China whacked Australia with trade sanctions costing billions of dollars in merchandise and service exports after Canberra called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison was the last Australian leader to speak with Li and Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019.

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Saturday was the first time Li and Albanese met in person, and they discussed the 50-year anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

“I think it’s a good thing that it happened. I’ve said repeatedly about the relationship with China – that we should cooperate where we can and that dialogue was always a good thing,” Albanese said.

Asked if he thought China was looking to recalibrate its relationship with other countries, he answered: “We should cooperate with China where we can and that’s what we’re doing.”

Li said Beijing was ready to meet Canberra half way, and use the diplomatic anniversary “to promote sustained, sound and steady growth of China-Australia relations,” according to a report by state-run news agency Xinhua.

Albanese hopes to secure a meeting with Xi on the sidelines of the coming G20 summit in Bali, but the appointment has yet to be confirmed.

Albanese also had a 40-minute meeting in the Cambodian capital with US President Joe Biden, who has said he would seek to identify the “red lines” in his country’s relations with Beijing when he holds talks with Xi at the G20 on Monday. AFP



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