Australian PM meets president, discusses trade and investment

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 11:20 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) Visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard Wednesday met President Pranab Mukherjee and discussed trade and investment and energy issues between the two countries.

The two leaders held "wide ranging discussions on bilateral and multilateral issues".

"The discussions covered issues relating to trade and investment, energy, supply of resources for India's economic development, education, and people to people contacts," a statement issued here said.

Gillard, who is here on a three-day visit - her first to the country as the prime minister - will also hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday.

India and Australia are set to announce the start of civil nuclear negotiations, which, according to Gillard, could take "one or two years".

Gillard and Mukherjee also discussed cooperation in multilateral forums such as G-20 whose summit Australia will host in 2014.

Mukherjee congratulated Gillard for launching the Oz Fest in India and described it as a good initiative. The four-month festival that will showcase the Australian culture was kick-started by Gillard Tuesday night.

"He (president) said India is committed to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia," the statement said.

"The president expressed appreciation for Australia's support for India's candidature in an expanded United Nations Security Council and said the two countries should work together in reforming the international financial architecture and equipping institutions like the World Bank with the resources they need," it said.

Gillard gifted two saplings of Wollemi Pine for the famed Mughal Gardens inside Rashtrapati Bhavan's sprawling premises.

This tree was discovered in Australia in 1994 and its origins date back to the time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, the statement added.

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