Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Australia and China upgrade security ties, ink energy deal


China and Australia upgraded their security ties yesterday, announcing annual talks on international issues and overseeing a new energy trade deal that underscores their flourishing economic relations.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) announced plans for a yearly security dialogue after a morning of talks. The two also discussed climate change -- the core issue at a weekend summit of Pacific Rim leaders.

Hu's meeting with Howard comes a day after the Australian leader spent a day hosting US President George W. Bush. While Hu and Howard did not exude the easy rapport that Howard and Bush enjoy, the Australian and Chinese leaders had much to celebrate.

Among agreements signed by their entourages was one for Woodside Petroleum Ltd to supply liquefied natural gas to state-run PetroChina Co -- a deal worth up to A$35 billion (US$28.8 billion), Howard said. China agreed to donate two pandas to the Adelaide Zoo.

On climate change, Howard is seeking a strong endorsement for a new approach to global warming from the leaders at the 21-member APEC summit. Hu, however, only reiterated China's stock position -- that while global warming is a problem, it is largely the fault of already industrialized nations.

In an indirect slap at the Australian's agenda for APEC, Hu said he hoped the summit's declaration would note that UN-sponsored talks "should remain the main channel" for efforts to tackle climate change.

While the new security talks between Australia and China, which will be convened by foreign ministers next year, marked an upgrade in ties, its announcement came as Australia also has been upgrading its security ties with Pacific allies, the US and Japan.

On Wednesday, Bush and Howard announced an agreement to give Australian businesses access to US defense contracts.

Howard is due to hold security talks tomorrow with Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in a meeting Beijing has already criticized as being insufficiently transparent.

"The trilateral dialogue between Australia, Japan and the US is not directed at anyone, any more than the strategic dialogue I have just announced between Australia and China is not directed at anyone," Howard said.


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