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Morrison bracing for 'frank' summit talks

Scott Morrison will attend the East Asia Summit in Singapore and APEC in Papua New Guinea this week. (AAP)

The prime minister is being urged to bury an idea to move Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem as he prepares to take to the world stage in Singapore.

Scott Morrison is bracing himself for "frank dialogue" as he departs for a series of international summits and meetings with Australian allies.

But as the prime minister prepares to take to the world stage for the first time, he faces calls to abandon a controversial idea to move Australia's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Mr Morrison will join 21 leaders from around the globe for the East Asia Summit in Singapore on Tuesday night, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

US Vice-President Mike Pence and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will also attend the summit.

Mr Morrison is expected to hold one-on-one meetings with at least six key regional leaders as Australia pushes its case in trade and security talks.

"Frank dialogue and mutual respect and co-operation underpin the East Asia Summit and I look forward to the opportunities it presents," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The prime minister will meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo but the pair will not yet ink an Australia-Indonesia free trade agreement.

Indonesia is angry about Australia's potential move of an embassy to Jerusalem, with reports the deal is on hold until the issue is sorted out.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has urged the prime minister to abandon the idea, lamenting the fact it upset many of Australia's regional neighbours.

Mr Shorten dismissed the proposal as a failed "advertising gimmick" designed to snag a few votes in the recent Wentworth by-election.

"If Mr Morrison doesn't intend to move the embassy he should just say so. Our lives are too short to be debating a thought bubble," the Labor leader told reporters in Melbourne.

"Now is not the time for advertising stunts. If you know you've made a mistake, just fix it."

Mr Morrison aims to meet Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Singapore and President Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea later this week.

Escalating trade tensions and strategic competition between the US and China are expected to loom large over the forums.

Mr Morrison is attempting to forge closer ties with the competing world powers, given China is Australia's largest trading partner and the US its closest defence ally.

But he indicated he will not publicly confront China's move to put Uighur Muslims in re-education camps despite at least three Australians having been held in the facilities.

Nor will Australia agitate over China's territorial claims over islands in the South China Sea.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has also travelled to Singapore to work on trade deals, including a 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The free trade pact includes the 10 ASEAN states as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Concerns about the rapid pace of Chinese investment and development throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific are also expected to be aired.

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