Australia’s Albanese, Japan’s Kishida meet for defense, energy talks

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida on Saturday for talks expected to cover defense and energy deals amid China’s push for greater influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the annual Australia-Japan Leaders’ Meeting, held in the Western Australia capital Perth, the two were expected to sign a security cooperation agreement updating a 2007 pact, to respond to a changed regional security environment, officials from the two US ally nations said on Friday.

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The summit is the fourth for the leaders, since Albanese took office in May.

Albanese and Kishida were also due to discuss climate change, expressing support for a regional transition to net zero carbon emissions, including boosting investment in clean energy technologies.

Footage on social media showed Kishida receiving a ceremonial welcome on Saturday morning.

Australia is a major supplier of iron ore, coal and gas to Japan. Locating the meeting in Perth, 3,700 km (2,300 miles) from the national capital Canberra, was meant to showcase Western Australia’s importance in supplying Japan’s energy needs, including renewable energy. The state is also a key source of beef and wheat to Japan.

Canberra and Tokyo recently bolstered security ties in response to China’s growing military strength in the region. In May, Kishida and Albanese pledged to work toward a new bilateral declaration on security cooperation.

A previous joint declaration outlined security cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism and North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs. The two countries in 2014 elevated their relationship to a “Special Strategic Partnership.”

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