Monday, October 26, 2009



Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith arrived here on Monday on a five-day visit during which the issue of attacks on Indians and preventive steps taken by the Australian government are expected to figure in talks.

The two sides will also discuss ways to increase commercial ties and cooperation in defence, counter-terrorism and climate change.

Smith, on his second visit as Foreign Minister, will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna under the framework of Foreign Ministerial Dialogue.

Ahead of his visit, Smith said, "Minister Krishna and I will discuss advancing bilateral, regional and international cooperation between Australia and India."

He said the two leaders will also "discuss our common interests and international political and economic issues."

The visit, ninth by an Australian Minister, comes against the backdrop of attacks on Indians in that country.

The issue is expected to figure in the discussions that Smith will have with Krishna and other Indian leaders.

India has been pressing Australia to take effective steps to prevent attacks on Indians, many of which are suspected to be racist in nature.

Australia has been responding positively and taken a number of measures.

"Our strong people-to-people links are increasing, with greater flows of tourists, business people, and students between our countries," the Australian Foreign Minister said.

He noted that Australia and India, both members of the G-20, are seeing bilateral trade and investment grow rapidly.

India is now Australia?s fifth largest export market.

Australia and India are also working more closely in the fields of defence cooperation, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation, he said, adding cooperation is growing in energy security, climate change and food security.

"Australia will continue to work hard to take India to the front rank of its international relationships," he said.

During his stay in Delhi, Smith will also inspect Commonwealth Games facilities.

Smith will also travel to Mumbai, where he will meet Indian business leaders and deliver an address to the Asia Society.

"I will also commemorate the lives lost, including those of two Australians, during last November's shocking terrorist attacks in Mumbai," he said.

"Australia expressed its solidarity with India at the time and we will continue to work with India and other countries to tackle terrorism and extremism.

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