Australian PM in India: Talks on trade ties, attacks on students

Australian PM in India: Talks on trade ties, attacks on students

  As  Kevin Rudd landed, India  conveyed its concerns over recent attacks on Indian students in that country and stressed the need for Canberra to take ''effective steps'' to prevent recurrence of such incidents.  
The MEA spokesperson said the Australian Government needed to take effective steps and look at means to ensure that such attacks do not happen again.
On the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, Prakash said, "We have constituted a Joint Study Group to study the feasibility of concluding a FTA between India and Australia."

The attack on Indian students will figure prominently in the discussions. Rudd is expected to allay Indian concerns in a speech at the Indian Council for World Affairs here on India-Australia relations.    
"India attaches highest importance to the safety and security of students of Indian origin in Australia. It's a matter of concern," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told reporters here.
"We have conveyed our concerns at the highest level. Unfortunately, the attacks have recurred in the last week," he said. "It's important that the means are effective to ensure the security and safety of Indian students."
Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein pay homage to martyrs after they laid wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, in New Delhi on Thursday."The Australian side has assured us that they follow a policy of zero tolerance towards such incidents," he said. There have been over 30 attacks on Indians in Australia since May this year.

Another attack on a 22-year-old Indian student in Melbourne Sunday by a group of Australians has put the spotlight back on an issue that has caused the Australian leadership to embark on a massive damage control exercise.
The creation of a free trade area and enhanced cooperation in the area of maritime security will also be on the table during discussions between the two leaders. 

Buoyed by bilateral civil nuclear deals with five countries, the Indian side is expected to renew its pitch for the purchase of uranium from Australia. However, no tangible movement in this area is expected as Canberra has made it clear that it does not sell uranium to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia supported the resumption of global nuclear trade with India in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group last year.  India is hoping it will be among the first countries to get Australian uranium after Canberra revises its domestic policy.
Energy cooperation has emerged as an important sector of cooperation between the two countries. The focus will be on clean coal technologies and renewable technologies, sources said.
Meanwhile, the sources maintain that they are not hoping for any positive outcome in the field of uranium supply to India.
"Every time we meet, we raise the issue of supplying uranium to us. But, we are sure that as and when Australia decides to supply uranium to Non-NPT signatories, India will be one of the first countries to get it," sources said.
Australia had refused to supply uranium to India as its domestic political policies do not allow it to sell the mineral to Non-NPT signatory countries such as India.
There was greater scope of energy cooperation between the two countries, they added, in areas of renewable energy and clean coal technology.
On the issue of Australian support for Indian membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec), sources said that there was a moratorium on inducting new members till 2012 and Canberra will support India's eventual membership when it opens up.
Sources said the Navies and Coast Guards of the two countries have a healthy relationship towards security and safety of ship movements in the Indian Ocean and they are planning to increase the exchange of training programmes between the two forces.

The two countries signed a contract for the supply of 1.5 million tonnes of Australian LNG annually to India for the next 20 years in August.  
Apart from holding delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister, Rudd will have separate meetings with the President, the Vice President, the External Affairs Minister and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Rudd is accompanied by his wife and a senior level delegation, including Australian Deputy National Security Advisor Angus Campbell and Senior Policy Adviser Philip Greenhorn.

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