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Australian PM may visit Japan to meet Suga in November

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a media conference at Parliament House on July 9, 2020, in Canberra, Australia. (Getty/Kyodo)

SYDNEY (Kyodo) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans on traveling to Japan to meet the country's recently elected prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, as early as November, Australian media reported Tuesday.

    The visit is aimed at reinforcing strategic cooperation between the two countries in the face of China's increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, The Australian reported.

    The meeting could be delayed to January 2021 if situations surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic worsen or Suga decides to dissolve the House of Representatives for a general election before his envisaged visit, according to the newspaper.

    The visit will be Morrison's first trip abroad since the pandemic and he will likely be obligated to quarantine for two weeks upon his return, it reported.

    The two are expected to continue discussions regarding a visiting forces agreement which would provide legal status to members of Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military during joint drills on their respective lands, among other issues.

    During a virtual meeting on July 9, Morrison and Suga's predecessor Shinzo Abe had agreed to hold a summit meeting in Tokyo in the near future.

    On Sunday, Suga had a phone conversation with Morrison, the first head of government he spoke to since his inauguration on Sept. 16.

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