Reuters International

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S., May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's centre-left opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday endorsed U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton over her chief Republican rival, Donald Trump, who he said would be "very difficult" to work with.

Shorten, who is campaigning against Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ahead of national elections on July 2, pledged to continue Australia's close relationship with the United States regardless of the outcome of the U.S. election.

But he made no secret of which candidate he preferred.

"In terms of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, I have to say that if I was in America, I would be voting for Hillary Clinton," Shorten told reporters.

"Whoever America elects we'll deal with but there's no doubt in my mind that Trump would be very difficult, I think, to deal with."

Trump's often controversial comments on everything from Muslims and women to the future of NATO and relations with Russia have drawn criticism from Berlin, Paris and other European capitals.

British Prime Minister David Cameron this week stood by his description of Trump's plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States as "divisive, stupid and wrong" after Trump said that he was unlikely to have a good relationship with Cameron.

(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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