Foreign Minister to visit Japan and Europe

Media release

Brisbane

12 October 2010

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd departs today on an eight-day visit to Japan, Belgium and Italy.

In Tokyo, Mr Rudd will meet with the Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to reiterate the importance the Australian Government attaches to this critical relationship.

"I look forward to meeting with Foreign Minister Maehara and discussing how we can build on our strong economic and security cooperation," Mr Rudd said.

"Japan is Australia's closest partner in Asia, our second largest export market and our third largest source of foreign investment.

"In the months leading to key international meetings on the global agenda, this is also an opportune time to discuss options for further strengthening our cooperation in international fora such as the East Asia Summit, APEC and G20."

Mr Rudd is the first Australian Cabinet Minister to visit Japan since the Kan Government took office in June.

In Brussels, Mr Rudd will participate in the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Ministerial meeting on 15 October, co-chaired by the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton, and Pakistan's Foreign Minister Qureshi.

"This meeting will help to strengthen the international community's efforts to support Pakistan — not just to rebuild from the floods, but also in its long-term approach to economic recovery.

"Australia stands by Pakistan in this time of need as a long term friend and partner.

"Australia is working with Pakistan to help them undertake the fundamental reforms that will give the Pakistani people long-term stability and prosperity," said Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd will then travel to Rome, to lead a bi-partisan Australian delegation at the Canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop on 17 October, which will be presided over by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr Rudd said Mary Mackillop continues to be an inspiration today through the work of the Sisters of Saint Joseph — the order of nuns she founded.

Mr Rudd will also officially open the Australian Embassy to the Holy See's new chancery office.

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