First pictures of PM at major event
Anthony Albanese has touched down in Japan ahead of meetings with some of the world’s most powerful leaders at the G7 Summit.
The Prime Minister was filmed on Friday afternoon disembarking at the airport in Hiroshima (AEST) where he was greeted by local officials before stepping into a silver BMW waiting on the tarmac.
Mr Albanese has capped off his final week of his first year in the top job by jetting off to the G7 summit after being invited as Japan’s guest to represent Australia at the meeting of the world’s largest advanced economies.
First on his agenda is a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park – a site dedicated to the city’s legacy as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear-weapons attack.
Nearly 80 years after the US detonated two atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, the countries’ modern-day leaders will meet at the G7 where a major theme will be nuclear non-proliferation.
Those leaders, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, were supposed to fly to Australia next week for a Quad summit at Sydney Opera House.
But those plans fell apart when Mr Biden pulled out to focus on crucial congress negotiations in Washington, prompting Mr Albanese to cancel the Quad meeting.
Indian Prime Minister Mr Modi is still going to make the trip to Sydney.
Speaking to reporters in Hiroshima, Mr Albanese said he would meet with the three other leaders of the Quadrilateral security dialogue on the sidelines of the G7.
He also confirmed he had been invited to visit China following Trade Minister Don Farrell’s recent trip and Beijing’s subsequent decision to lift trade bans on Australian timber.
“I have been invited to visit the People’s Republic of China; I’ve always said we would warmly welcome engagement on the relationship with China,” he said.
“Our position has been very consistent; we’ll co-operate where we can, we’ll disagree where we must, but we will engage in our national interest.”
Mr Albanese said he would continue to push for the remaining punishing trade blockages on Australian exports, such as wine and barley, to be removed.
Additionally, Mr Albanese confirmed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy would attend the G7 Summit.
“My message to President Zelenskyy will be the same as the message I’ve given him when he addressed the parliament virtually in Canberra, the same message that I gave when I visited Kyiv; to express our support for the people of Ukraine,” he said.
“We’ll continue to liaise with them about what further support we can give.”
Mr Albanese will hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Brazil and South Korea later on Friday.
Mr Albanese will have range of additional bilateral discussions on Saturday when he is expected to meet with United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.
He is also understood to be hoping to catch up with French President Emmanuel Macron and to sit down with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to finalise negotiations for the new free trade agreement between the European Union and Australia.
Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles told reporters on Friday it was disappointing but “completely understandable” the Quad summit in Sydney had been cancelled.
“The American President was facing domestic circumstances within his country and frankly, these things happen,” he said.
“But the Quad remains a really important piece of regional architecture. We’re very committed to this. I know the other Quad countries are and another Quad meeting will happen in due course.”
Mr Marles said he expected Mr Biden and Mr Albanese to discuss Australia’s plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS security pact when they met on the sidelines of the G7.