New Australian leader to refocus foreign policy on first major trip
The new Australian prime minister is begining an 18-day foreign policy trip, keen to draw a stark contrast with his predecessor, particularly with Australia's relationship with the US.
New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd left Australia Thursday on his first big overseas trip, armed with plans to make his country more active in global affairs and bearing bad news for U.S. President George W. Bush on Iraq.
Before departing, Rudd, elected four months ago as Australia's first new leader in more than a decade, outlined a foreign policy vision that contrasts with his predecessor by offering stronger support for the United Nations, while hinting at looser ties with Washington.
The first stop in a 17-day trip to Australia's most important strategic and economic partners is Washington, where Rudd will confirm his policy of withdrawing Australia's 550 combat troops from Iraq in a face-to-face meeting with Bush.
Rudd will then hold talks with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York before attending a NATO meeting in Bucharest, Romania, where he will repeat Australia's demands for greater involvement in the security alliance's Afghanistan planning and press for more European troops in the war-torn country.