Prime Minister Tony Abbott has foreshadowed closer military co-operation and joint military exercises with China, and revealed President Xi Jinping has accepted his invitation to address both houses of Parliament later this year.
Speaking in Beijing the morning after a state dinner and bilateral talks with Mr Xi, Mr Abbott said personal relationships at senior levels of government had ''very much been enhanced''.
''We had a very warm and constructive discussion last night,'' he told reporters on Saturday, the last day of his week-long visit to Japan, South Korea and China. Mr Xi will visit Australia in November for bilateral meetings attached to his attendance at the G20 summit in Brisbane.
Mr Abbott said he was ''quite confident'' of building on high-level meetings and exchanges with the world's largest army through the form of ''multilateral exercises in the months and years ahead''.
''That's got to be good for peace and understanding in our region and the wider world,'' he said.
Australia already co-operates with New Zealand and China on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drills. China's People's Liberation Army has asked to operate under Australian command in the US-led Rim of the Pacific maritime exercises, when the navies of more than 20 nations converge on Hawaii for warfare drills in July.
''Without going into specific detail, I express the hope and confidence that there can be greater and deeper involvement [from China] in the time ahead,'' Mr Abbott said.
The breakthrough in military relations follows close co-operation in the search for Malaysia Airlines' flight MH370.
China's state-run media outlets prominently reported Mr Abbott's meeting with Mr Xi, with reports of the Prime Minister's personal update on the search running as the lead item of official news agency Xinhua, as well as dominating the front page of a number of newspapers, including the English-language China Daily.
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