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Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 12:21

AIIB: Australia lukewarm, Austria confirms

By Agencies

AIIB: Australia lukewarm, Austria confirms
In this file photograph dated on Feb 27, 2015, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks at the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland. (AFP PHOTO / Michael Bradley)

CANBERRA, Australia - Australia's prime minister says he supports the proposed development of a Chinese-led Asian regional bank as long as it is transparent and was not run by a single country.

This came on a day Austria confirmed its participation in the establishment of AIIB. A foreign ministry spokesperson told Xinhua that the decision was made in a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, expected to be establish by the end of 2015, has raised concerns in Washington that it will compete with established international lenders such as the World Bank.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters on Wednesday that Australia is "certainly well and truly disposed to joining something which is in fact a genuinely multilateral institution with transparent governance, with clear accountability and with major decisions made by the board.''

Australia is still "a number of steps" away from joining AIIB as a founding member, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Wednesday.

The foreign minister said the Australian government is still going through the process of examining "governance issues" surrounding the AIIB, and there is "quite a way to go" before Australia signed up to join the organisation despite the looming March 31 deadline.

Federal cabinet and the National Security Committee have approved the ability for the Australia government to sign a " memorandum of understanding" on the US$100-billion bank but when the government will actually put pen to paper remains unknown.

Tresurer Joe Hockey, an early proponent of the bank in Australia, said on Wednesday Australia would do its best to meet next Tuesday's deadline.

The Australian newspaper reports that Australia is expected join the Chinese proposed bank as early as this week.

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