MELBOURNE - US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Australia on Saturday for talks about the joint mission in Afghanistan, broader security issues, climate change and trade.

The chief US diplomat, who travelled to the southern city of Melbourne from New Zealand as she winds up a seven-country tour of Asia, was expected to meet new Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

Their meetings will pave the way for annual security consultations here on Monday that will also involve US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith.

'The United States and Australia are key allies with a history of shared political interests and a future of increased cooperation on trade, technology, and transnational interests,' the State Department said in a statement.

Mr Rudd welcomed Mrs Clinton, saying her visit underlined the 'enduring nature' of the alliance between Australia and the United States.

'Secretary Clinton is a true friend of Australia,' he said in a statement.

Australia is the last country on an Asia Pacific tour that has taken Clinton to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Cambodia, China and Vietnam.

She is due to return to Washington on Monday via American Samoa.

Clinton in Australia for talks