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PM too busy for meetings

Date

Jonathan Swan, Mark Kenny

Wheel deal: Tony Abbott cycles past the Arc de Triomphe in support of an Australian ex-services charity.

Wheel deal: Tony Abbott cycles past the Arc de Triomphe in support of an Australian ex-services charity. Photo: Andrew Meares

Tony Abbott has defended not holding talks with economic leaders in Washington and New York this week amid claims he deliberately snubbed them.

Talks with IMF boss Christine Lagarde and the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, which have been a staple for visiting Australian leaders, remain in doubt after Mr Abbott's office cited a busy schedule.

It is understood Mr Abbott will keep his appointment with US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, while the two other meetings are undecided.

''In the US, the Prime Minister has a very full program of formal talks with President [Barack] Obama and other political, policy and business leaders, focusing on how we can strengthen this extraordinarily important bilateral relationship,'' a spokeswoman said.

''[Mr Abbott] is scheduled to meet with Janet Yellen, chair of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve, and Jack Lew, secretary of the US Treasury.''

Mr Abbott's Washington program is not final - some meetings may yet be included if scheduling permits - and it is understood no meetings have been cancelled.

There has been speculation Mr Obama will put pressure on Mr Abbott given the former's recent push for climate action.

Mr Abbott visited Villers-Brettoneux on the Western Front on Saturday as part of his bid to elevate the WWI battleground - resting place of 46,000 Australians - to the same cultural status as Anzac Cove. Mr Abbott was also scheduled to meet French President Francois Hollande before leaving for Canada.

He arrives in New York on Monday.

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