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Australian Prime Minister Calls for Greater Cooperation with India

  • Anjana Pasricha

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called for more investment and trade with India during a visit to the Indian capital. Rudd has also promised that attacks on Indian students in Australia will not be tolerated.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called for more investment and trade with India during a visit to the Indian capital. Rudd has also promised that attacks on Indian students in Australia will not be tolerated.

On top of the agenda of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd during his visit to New Delhi, was his promise that his government is committed to ensuring the safety of Indians studying in Australian universities.

The issue figured during talks between the Australian leader and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Indians make up the largest number of overseas students from any one country studying in Australian universities. But in recent months a series of attacks on Indian students has raised tensions and received wide media coverage, with some reports suggesting the attacks are racially motivated.

Prime Minister Rudd says Australian authorities will do all that is "physically possible" to prevent such attacks.

"Indian students are welcome guests in our country, and we have an obligation to extend the hand of friendship and support to all Indian students in our midst," Rudd said.

Mr. Rudd also said Australia and India have weathered the financial crisis better than many other countries, and are in a position to expand commercial ties, and explore investment opportunities. He underlined the potential of resource rich Australia helping India meet its expanding food and energy needs as its population grows.

The Australian leader made a strong pitch for a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

"I firmly believe that a comprehensive, commercially meaningful FTA [free-trade agreement] between Australia and India could deliver substantial new market access for exporters and investors, and open up job opportunities in both countries. And this is good news for us all," Rudd said.

The two countries are likely to begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement after completing a feasibility study.

The leaders of the two countries also discussed issues such as terrorism and security, with both sides stressing that they can expand cooperation on global issues such as the economic crisis and climate change.

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