Anthony Albanese has returned home after a critical meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington DC, but has warned of “strategic competition” with China ahead of his next visit in a week.

The PM was flanked by his partner Jodie Haydon as he touched down at Sydney Airport on Saturday morning.

The international visit was the ninth in-person meeting between Mr Albanese and Mr Biden since Labor regained government in last year’s election.

It also followed the US President’s last minute exit from the Quad meeting slated for Sydney earlier this year.

During the US trip, Mr Albanese said Australia had “strategic competition” with China, and said it was in both Australia, and the global interest, that the two countries maintain a dialogue.

Mr Albanese will travel to China next week to meet with President Xi – a first for an Australian leader since Malcolm Turnbull’s trip to Hangzhou in 2016.

During his US meeting he said: “We have strategic competition in our region … that’s a fact that we are living with”.

“Hence I welcome the fact that I have been invited to China.

“We want a peaceful and secure region, but we want one as well that’s based upon the rule of law and where national sovereignty, including issues such as the South China Sea and the right of passage in that important waterway there – the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait – is respected.

“And that is Australia’s position.”

The three-day to Beijing and Shanghai from November 4 – 7 comes after China removed most of its trade sanctions against Australia, and released detained journalist Cheng Lei.

China’s Premier Li Qiang will also meet with Mr Albanese.

During his US trip, Mr Albanese credited the US as Australia’s “most important” relationship, ahead of his visit to China next week.

“In today’s turbulent world, it is a relationship that provides security, stability, based upon our common values and our position as great democratic nations working together to promote those values throughout the Indo-Pacific and throughout the world,” he said.

The president also confirmed US’ loyalty to Australia.

He said he had been asked by Chinese President Xi Jingping why the US was “working so hard” with Australia, and in response Mr Biden said they were a “Pacific nation”.

“We are and we’re going to stay that way,” he said.


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By Rahul

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