Australian PM talks briefly with China’s Li, prompting talk of ASEAN summit

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Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke briefly with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at a regional summit in Cambodia, Australian media said on Sunday, sparking some expectations of a formal summit with President Xi Jinping.

Albanese and Li spoke on arrival at a gala on the sidelines of the summit in Phnom Penh of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

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The discussion raised the prospect of a potential Albanese-Xi meeting at the summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Indonesia on Monday.

Albanese’s office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report or on what would be Albanese’s first meeting with Xi since becoming prime minister in May.

The Australian leader said on Wednesday that a meeting with Xi would be a positive development after years of tense bilateral relations.

Ties have deteriorated in recent years, with China imposing sanctions on some Australian imports and reacting angrily to Canberra’s call for an international inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

The last bilateral summit was in 2019 when Albanese’s predecessor, Scott Morrison, met Xi at a G20 meeting, according to Australia’s foreign ministry.

Xi will attend the Bali G20 meeting, an adviser to the Indonesian president has said. Albanese's office said last week he will attend that meeting and a subsequent summit in Bangkok of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group.

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