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Chinese premier to visit Australia on Saturday

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — China’s Premier Li Qiang will visit Australia later this week, officials said Tuesday, in a further indication that strained bilateral relations are improving.

Li’s visit will extend from Saturday to Tuesday, and will be the first by a Chinese premier to Australia since 2017, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

Albanese and Li will hold an annual leaders’ meeting at Parliament House in the Australian capital Canberra during the visit, an Australian government statement said.

Li, the second most powerful official in China’s leadership, will also visit the Australian cities of Adelaide and Perth.

Li’s visit follows Albanese’s visit to Beijing in November last year, where leaders agreed to resume key bilateral dialogues and to further several areas of cooperation.

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (right) walks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang during a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 7, 2023. PHOTO: AP

China imposed a series of official and unofficial trade barriers that cost Australian exporters up to AUD20 billion a year after Australia’s previous government demanded an international inquiry into the causes of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most of those barriers have been removed since Albanese’s government was elected in 2022.

“Premier Li Qiang’s visit to Australia is an important opportunity to engage directly on key issues for both our nations,” Albanese said in a statement.

“Australia continues to pursue a stable and direct relationship with China, with dialogue at its core,” Albanese added.