It’s actually not a bad idea in foreign policy to have a few friends in the world. Morrison and Dutton seem to have had the reverse view..
Anthony Albanese has confirmed he will visit France to meet the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and is considering travelling to Ukraine, during next week’s trip to Europe for the Nato summit.
Albanese said he was also looking forward to “having further dialogue” with the Chinese government, but admitted the relationship would remain “problematic” for some time, despite a recent end to the freeze on diplomatic relations.
Albanese will on Monday travel to Madrid for the Nato summit, and as widely tipped, he will add a short detour to Paris to smooth over the acrimony around Australia’s scrapping of the submarine deal with French builder Naval Group. Albanese confirmed a fortnight ago that the government would pay the shipbuilder $835m in compensation, after the former Coalition government tore up the contract in favour of nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus agreement.
“I’ve been invited by President Macron to meet with him in France. I’ll be doing that in a week’s time. We do need to reset. We’ve already had very constructive discussions,” Albanese said.
“It is important that reset occur. France, of course, is central to power in Europe. But it’s also a key power in the Pacific, in our own region as well … Next week’s visit is a very concrete sign of the repair that’s been done already.”
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, invited Albanese to visit the country. The prime minister has not confirmed his decision, but hinted that the offer was still being considered, saying that he was “getting national security advice on that”.
“We don’t want to cause a circumstance whereby there’s risk to Australian personnel by undertaking such a visit, but we’ll take that advice and we’ll act accordingly,” Albanese said.
Ukraine’s ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko on Wednesday encouraged Albanese to take up the invitation, saying it would send a “strong message of solidarity” in the country’s war against Russia and that Zelenskiy would be “delighted” to host him.
Asked about China, Albanese again called for Beijing to lift sanctions on Australian produce, and indicated he would welcome a further thawing of diplomatic relations.
“It will be a problematic relationship, I said that before the election, regardless of the outcome. China has sanctions against Australia that should be removed,” he said.
“They’re damaging the Australian economy and jobs, but they’re causing damage to the Chinese economy. So common sense tells us that you need to have dialogue between countries. They’re our largest trading partner.”
Albanese said it was “a good thing” that defence minister Richard Marles had recently met his Chinese counterpart, the first ministerial dialogue between the two countries in two years.
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