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Australian PM Julia Gillard leaves for Asian tour

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Postby rath » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:26 am

Julia Gillard flies out of Australia this morning for what is being touted as a major diplomatic visit to North Asia.

The Prime Minister will be the first leader to visit Japan at the express invitation of the Japanese government since last month's earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Ms Gillard will also visit South Korea and China during the 10-day tour, with free trade talks to be at the top of the agenda.

The Prime Minister and her partner, Tim Mathieson, will host a gala fundraising dinner for victims of the Japanese tragedy and are also expected to visit devastated areas.

She will have an audience with Japan's emperor and the empress tomorrow and will also meet the prime minister and the foreign minister.

Ms Gillard says she will be bringing a message of goodwill and friendship to the Japanese people.

Deals in South Korea and China are still a long way off, but officials are hoping a deal will be finalised with Korea later this year.

Ms Gillard will host a dinner for Korean veterans on the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong on April 24, before marking Anzac Day in that country.

She will attend a high-level meeting of Chinese and Australian businessmen during her first visit to Beijing next week.

Although business is the focus, Ms Gillard says she intends to raise human rights issues during talks with president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao and is expected to speak about Tibet and the detention of Australian citizens.

Ms Gillard then flies out to London next week for the royal wedding.

Though she will not meet the Queen while in Britain, she will meet Prince Charles as well as prime minister David Cameron and opposition leader Ed Miliband.
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