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Australian PM says Doha Round is "doable"
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09:00, April 03, 2008

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd expressed belief Wednesday that an agreement on the WTO Doha Round talks was "doable," and must be achieved urgently.

"This Doha Round is doable. There is an urgent need, in my view, to conclude this round, and to conclude it urgently as a shot in the arm for the global economy, which has been through a considerable amount of stress," Rudd told reporters following talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the European Union (EU) headquarters.

Rudd, who has made the Doha Round a top priority of his government, said, "Time is short and urgency is great" in achieving the agreement that will be significant for all relevant countries around the world.

Barroso shared Rudd's point of view. "I believe an agreement on the Doha round is possible and the EU would like to work closely with Australia and other relevant partners to achieve it," he told reporters.

The Doha Round, launched in Qatar in 2001, is moving at a slow pace as differences persist among countries mainly on agricultural tariffs.

Rudd admitted that the EU and Australia have had disagreements on agriculture as "Australia is defending the interests of its farmers."

Rudd and Barroso discussed a wide range of issues, and Barroso described the meeting as "really productive" and "in-depth."

Both sides emphasized the importance of promoting bilateral cooperation, especially on climate change and aid to impoverished nations to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Barroso said both sides "have a lot to gain in joining forces" on bilateral and multilateral issues.

Australia and the EU are working on a new partnership, which will bring about a substantive upgrade of the partnership, he added.

Rudd said his "central purpose in Brussels is to symbolize the importance of establishing new broad-based relations with the EU."

Europe has much to offer on the WTO, development, climate change and other issues, he said.

On climate change, Rudd urged nations around the world to take quick action to implement the Bali Roadmap as "time is again ticking away."

Both leaders also discussed security matters, particularly Afghanistan.

Rudd is on his first major global tour since taking office late last year which has already taken him to the United States.


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