Australian PM to address U.S. Congress

09:40, February 24, 2011      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will address the U.S. Congress during a visit in March, local media reported on Thursday.

Having been a regular visitor to Washington DC in recent years, this trip will be Gillard's first visit to the U.S. as prime minister.

"The United States is our closest strategic and security partner and one of our most important economic relationships," she said in a statement ahead of her visit on March 5 to 13.

During the trip, Gillard will address a joint session of the U. S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The U.S. Congress holds joint sessions for foreign dignitaries only once or twice a year, with such occasions seen as a way to show respect for close allies, Australia Associated Press reported, adding that Gillard will be the first foreign dignitary to address the 112th Congress.

The prime minister will hold talks with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Talks are expected to focus on Afghanistan, developments in the Asia-Pacific region and the global economic recovery.

Also, Gillard will meet U.S. intelligence heads and discuss economic development issues with World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

In New York, she will meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and step up Australia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2013-2014.

On her return to Australia, she will stop in Honolulu where she will meet the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Robert F Willard, to discuss security issues in the Asia-Pacific.

Source: Xinhua

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