India keen to augment ties with Australia

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 20:35 hrs

India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday greeting the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on her first visit to India, underscored the bolstering ties between the two countries.

He said that relations between the India and Australia are characterized by expanding trade and investment ties, increasing defence cooperation, education and cultural linkages and growing people-to-people interaction.

Singh said, "Our strategic partnership is responding well to the significant transformations in our region and to the developmental aspirations of our two peoples."

"Prime Minister Gillard and I have had substantive discussions on measures to give greater content to our relations. I am extremely satisfied with our discussions."

The Indian PM giving an insight of the meeting with Gillard said, "In our talks earlier, we have agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level, either bilaterally or during multilateral events."

"We have also agreed to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, establish a Water Technology Partnership and start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons."

Talking about the nuclear cooperation between the two countries, Singh asserted, "As you are aware, under Prime Minister Gillard, the Australian Labour Party has articulated a new policy on uranium sales to India."

"This is recognition of India's energy needs as well as of our record and credentials and I have expressed to Prime Minister Gillard India's appreciation of this development. We have agreed to begin negotiations for an Agreement on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which will precede actual cooperation."

The Indian PM talking about the bilateral relations said that there is great potential to further strengthen India-Australia bilateral trade and investment relations, which continue to show robust growth.

"Our bilateral trade in goods was US$ 17.4 billion in 2011-12, while India's investments in Australia are at almost US$ 11 billion. Our negotiators are working towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which will further facilitate trade and investment and make them more broadly based and sustainable," he said.

He added, "We are also developing a wide-ranging cooperation in defence and security issues, including the fight against terrorism, in all of which we regard Australia as an important partner."

Gillard Tuesday inaugurated the Australian Festival in India.

Singh said, "Culture is an excellent medium to bring our two countries closer together. We are establishing ICCR Chairs of Indian Studies at five Australian Universities."

"I have also conveyed to Prime Minister Gillard our appreciation of the steps being taken by the Australian government to address the issues affecting Indians and Indian students in Australia, which have had a salutary effect."

Concluding the PM said, "This visit by Prime Minister Gillard is bound to open a new chapter in India-Australia relations. We look forward to the further strengthening, deepening and widening of these relations."

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