US diplomats monitored Gillard's progress: Wikileaks

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Melbourne, Dec 9(ANI): US diplomats had closely followed the rise of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, according to classified US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks.

According to the Age, US diplomats in Canberra had identified Gillard as the 'rising star' of the Rudd Labor government, rapidly outshining Treasurer Wayne Swan and all others.

A report by US Ambassador to Australia Robert McCallum noted that Gillard was "a loyal and competent deputy" to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The cable also revealed that US diplomats had no doubt about the full extent of Gillard's political ambitions and as early as June 2008 declared her the "front-runner" to replace Rudd as Labor leader, a goal she would achieve two years later.

"Although long appearing ambivalent about the Australia-US Alliance, Gillard's actions since she became the Labor Party number two indicate an understanding of its importance," the embassy reported to Washington in mid-2008.

"[US embassy political officers] had little contact with her when she was in opposition, but since the election, Gillard has gone out of her way to assist the embassy. Although warm and engaging in her dealings with American diplomats, it's unclear whether this change in attitude reflects a mellowing of her views or an understanding of what she needs to do to become leader of the ALP."

"It is likely a combination of the two. Labor Party officials have told us that one lesson Gillard took from the 2004 elections was that Australians will not elect a PM who is perceived to be anti-American," the report added. (ANI)

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