Australian leader in talks with Brown and audience with queen

Other News Materials 7 April 2008 16:38 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, during a visit to Britain Monday, hailed relations between the two countries as a "force for good" but reiterated that as a life-long republican he would back a referendum on removing Queen Elizabeth II as Australia's head of state.

The Australian leader made his remarks after talks in London with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and ahead of an audience with the queen, 82, at Windsor Castle Monday.

He said relations between the two countries were in "first class working order" and he believed that the two nations could be a "force for good" in the world.

On the issue of a referendum, he took a long-term view.

"We have other fish to fry right now in terms of priorities back home. But once a republican, always a republican," said the Australian Labor party leader.

Brown said the question of the monarchy was a matter for the Australian people to decide.

Brown spoke of a "new era" in relations between Britain and Australia and said the two men had agreed on an "enhanced relationship to build a shared future."

"We share a vision about how we can work together to build better international institutions for the 21st century challenges," said Brown.

The two men had agreed on closer cooperation on tackling climate change, international development and world trade.

At a joint news conference, Rudd underlined that his meeting with Brown would lead to a "new period of cooperation between Britain and Australia in shaping the global order."

The two leaders were also questioned about China's human rights record following protests during the Olympic torch procession through London Sunday.

Brown repeated his calls for "restraint and reconciliation" between supporters of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities.