Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Barack Obama and Julia Gillard are \'great mates\'

07 Mar 2011

Mrs Gillard opened a visit to Washington which will include a key speech to US business leaders, expected to call for bold US economic leadership and a fight against protectionism, and an address to a joint session of the US Congress.

The two leaders said they discussed the uprisings in the Middle East, key Asia-Pacific security and economic issues and the fact their nations were \"great mates\" linked by a pioneering spirit and love of the outdoors.

Mr Obama praised Australia\'s \"extraordinary contribution\" to the war in Afghanistan, noting it had paid a heavy price with the largest contingent of forces of any non-NATO member of the coalition.

\"We have no stronger ally than Australia,\" Mr Obama said, after the Oval Office talks, marking the 60th anniversary of the formal alliance between the two nations.

Mrs Gillard agreed that fighting in Afghanistan was \"hard\" but said she was personally committed to the mission, which Mr Obama says will begin to transition control to Afghan forces later this year.

She also said she had talked to Mr Obama about the need to maintain the G20 summit of developed and developing nations as a driver of economic growth and job creation.

The Australian leader also said she was hoping for \"major progress\" at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Hawaii to be hosted by Mr Obama in November.

She also stressed Australia\'s backing for the nascent Trans Pacific Partnership, a regional free trade grouping being negotiated by nine nations also involving the United States.

Mr Obama had twice been due to visit Australia last year, but put off the trip because of weighty domestic political crises, and has not rescheduled it.

Asked by Australian journalists when he would make the trip, Mr Obama did not commit to a date but said he was looking forward to returning to a country he visited as an eight-year-old boy with his late mother.

\"I had a wonderful time, everybody treated me wonderfully and I hope I get a chance to get back there soon,\" he said.

After their talks, the leaders left on an unannounced visit to a Washington area school where they were expected to face questions from pupils.

Earlier, Mrs Gillard announced $3.3 million in Australian financing to help build a Vietnam Veterans Education Center on Washington\'s central Mall, dedicated to telling the story of the bloody conflict.

She said the centre, close to the haunting Vietnam Memorial, would explain Australia\'s contribution to the war and highlight her country\'s long ties with the United States.

The plans include a \"Wall of Faces\" made up of photographs of the 520 Australians killed in the conflict, alongside those of some of their US comrades.

Construction on the $80 million centre is due to begin next year.

Mrs Gillard was also due on Monday to meet Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

On Tuesday, she will address the US Chamber of Commerce, and meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and veteran Republican Senator John McCain.

She makes her address to Congress on Wednesday.

News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

No comments:

eXTReMe Tracker