Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hillary Clinton cancels Papua New Guinea visit

From AFP


  • Hillary Clinton cancels Pacific trip
  • Australia, NZ and PNG were on itinerary
  • Ms Clinton will concentrate on Haiti crisis


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cancelled the remainder of a trip to Asia to deal with the crisis afflicting Haiti.

Ms Clinton had been due to visit Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Ms Clinton had been scheduled to leave Hawaii today to make a brief stop in PNG before going on to New Zealand and Australia.

Earlier, she told reporters she planned to continue with the journey but would look to shorten it.

"I have decided to cancel the remainder of my (trip) and return to Washington," Ms Clinton said.

Ms Clinton said she had called Australia's Foreign Minister Stephen Smith with the news and he had been "very understanding" of the decision.

"Thankfully, these are very good friends and they know that we wouldn't be cancelling were it not for something of this magnitude," she said.

"When I talked to the Foreign Minister, he was very understanding.

"I told him we would try to reschedule as soon as we can find a mutually convenient time."

Ms Clinton and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates were to be in Canberra for annual foreign affairs and defence ministerial talks (AUSMIN) on Monday.

Ms Clinton indicated the cancellation would have no impact on an already close relationship with Australia.

"I talk to the Foreign Minister all the time. I know that Secretary Gates talks to his counterpart all the time," she said.

"So we have a very close consultative relationship and we will reschedule the AUSMIN as soon as we can."

Ms Clinton's visits to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand will be rescheduled.

Ms Clinton had planned to meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Sunday and was due to visit Melbourne on Tuesday.

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