Canberra, July 15 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has blamed an agreement reached by former premier John Howard and the Chinese government for limiting his government's access to Rio Tinto's detained GM, Stern Hu.
"I note the consular agreement, which we inherited from the previous Australian government, limits the demands we can make on the Chinese authorities for consular access. For instance, it only entitles the government to have access to Mr Hu once a month," news.co.au quoted Rudd, as saying.
Rudd said the Australian Government had been seeking more information on Hu from the Chinese authorities.
"We'll continue to make the representations that we have in the past and further representations in the future," he said.
So far, access to Hu had been "consistent with the provisions of the agreement", Rudd said.
He added that Hu had spent much of the past two days in "extensive briefings" with senior government officials and the acting Foreign Minister, John Faulkner.
"We will need to continue to pursue this matter and this case methodically, carefully and patiently and in direct support of Mr Hu's interests. His wellbeing is our primary concern."
Rudd confirmed the Government had not received a direct briefing from the Chinese on why Hu had been detained.
"We can simply go to the basis of their public statements ... namely that the Chinese have indicated in their public statements that while he has not been charged they have indicated that he is being investigated on suspicion of espionage and stealing state secrets," he said.
Australia would continue to pursue a broad-based relationship with China, he said.
"It's one where we'll pursue all of our interests simultaneously and that doesn't preclude making representations or international statements about problems of human rights in China. I've done so in the past, I'll continue to do so in the future," he said. (ANI)