Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s post-election pledge last September to sign free trade deals with Japan, South Korea and China in 2014 will be tested this week as he leads the country’s largest-ever trade mission to a region beset with historical rivalries, the Financial Times reported Sunday. Abbott will seek to reboot the country’s diplomatic relationship with China, which has been on ice since Beijing last year declared an air defense zone in the East China Sea, an area that included disputed islands also claimed by Japan, according to the newspaper. He will aim to finalize an economic partnership with Japan when he meets Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday. He then flies to South Korea to sign a trade agreement with Seoul, before laying the groundwork for a deal with China when he meets President Xi Jinping on Friday, the report said.
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