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Gillard meets US counterpart

The Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard has met US Vice President Joe Biden on the first stop of an international tour that’s taking her to the United States and Israel.

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The pair spoke in Washington, with Ms Gillard being the first political leader to meet Mr Biden.

A scheduled meeting with Hillary Clinton was cancelled after the Secretary of State shattered her elbow in a fall.

In a speech to the Foresight International Conference, Ms Gillard said progressive responses were needed from nations at a challenging time for the global community.

“But the success of those responses is not guaranteed,” she said.

“For example, we are warned and worried by the advances of the right and far right in this month’s European elections, just as we are cheered that change has come and continues to come to Washington.”

Change needed

Progress depends on bringing together areas of political and policy action that have traditionally been kept separate, she said.

“What I mean is that building a productive, sustainable future through education and work depends on our taking effective global action to bring peace, security, environmental responsibility and democratic legitimacy,” she said.

She cited the Middle East, which she will visit next week, as an example of where this strategy was most necessary.

“But every nation, every community faces some version of the same shared challenge,” Ms Gillard said.

Australian reform

After years of conservative rule, Ms Gillard said Australia was playing catch-up in some areas like climate change and skilling its workforces.

“In some of these areas, we are acting to catch up on progress made by other countries during the last decade. But we are also ready to lead and to help shape a new path of progressive reform,” she said.

“That, in particular, is where our relationship with the United States and its role in a changing world are so important.”

Next week, Ms Gillard will lead a delegation to the inaugural Australia Israel Leadership Forum.

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