Australian Deputy PM Gillard to tour India to improve relations

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Melbourne, Aug.21 (ANI): Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Julia Gillard will undertake a five-day visit of India from August 30.

The visit is being seen as an effort on the part of Canberra to ramp up official efforts to rehabilitate Australia's reputation as a non-racist prime center of higher education on the sub-continent.

The Gillard visit will also be used to prepare the ground for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's visit later in the year, his first to India since winning elections in 2007.

Gillard said: "The government is committed to taking its relationship with India to a higher level and engaging with India on a long-term, strategic basis.We will discuss the Government's recent moves to improve the quality of education for overseas students in Australia."

The Rudd Government has flagged India as an important element of its foreign policy agenda but two previous attempts by the Prime Minister to visit the country had to be aborted because of domestic issues in New Delhi.

Canberra has been working hard to assure New Delhi it values the relationship a storm erupted over violence against Indian students.

Gillard also plans to meet her Indian counterpart Kapil Sibal and other government officials during her visit. (ANI)

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