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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 03:40 GMT
Australia to be 'climate bridge'
Kevin Rudd on 29 November 2007
Mr Rudd has pledged tough action on the environment
Australia's new PM has told China he will act as a bridge between Beijing and the developed world in negotiations on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Kevin Rudd made the offer in a phone conversation with Premier Wen Jiabao.

China is under intense pressure from the West to agree to binding targets on carbon emissions at talks in Bali.

Mr Rudd signalled a shift in Canberra's environment policy by signing documents to ratify the Kyoto Protocol hours after taking office.

Diplomatic focus

Mr Rudd has said he wants to put Australia at the forefront of the worldwide fight against global warming.

Earlier this week he started the process by which Australia will ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change - something which his predecessor, John Howard, repeatedly refused to do.

The BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney says it appears that the 20-minute phone call between the two leaders - conducted entirely in Mandarin - was initiated by China.

But he added that it was also a telling indication of where Australia's new diplomatic priorities might lie.

Following his election, the former diplomat spoke by phone to the leaders of Australia's traditional allies - George W Bush in Washington and Gordon Brown in London.

But the Chinese premier is the first foreign leader Mr Rudd has conducted discussions with since being sworn in as prime minister.

Mr Wen seems keen to take up Mr Rudd's offer and enlist him as an intermediary, our correspondent says.

Kevin Rudd speaking to his counterpart in Mandarin

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