Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Pic: AP.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States has few closer allies than Australia, but climate change could prove a touchy issue when Australia’s conservative prime minister makes his first White House visit Thursday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who was elected in September, arrives in Washington a week after President Barack Obama announced bold plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Abbott has described those as sensible steps but has made clear he doesn’t view the fight against global warming as a top priority and is set against action that could crimp Australian business. He plans to scrap Australia’s carbon tax on polluters.

Otherwise, there are plenty of shared interests between the two leaders. Abbott is a cheerleader for the strong historical ties between the U.S. and Australia and U.S. engagement in Asia.

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