India and Australia's interests increasingly converging, says new envoy

Posted By: Staff
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New Delhi, Sep. 24 (ANI): Australian High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese on Thursday said "Australia's and India's interests are increasingly converging and that Australia is committed to taking its relationship with India to the forefront of our bilateral partnerships."

Speaking after presenting his credentials to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, High Commissioner Varghese noted the strong people-to-people links between Australia and India.

"Over 200,000 people of Indian origin have made Australia their home. They live peacefully and harmoniously with migrant communities from different parts of the world," he said.

"Australia also looks to work constructively with India on a range of multilateral issues including the G20, climate change and the Doha Round," he added.

Varghese took up his position as Australian High Commissioner to India in August 2009.

Prior to his posting he was for five and half years the Director General of the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in Canberra. This is a Secretary-level statutory office reporting directly to the Australian Prime Minister. ONA provides the Prime Minister and the National Security Committee of Cabinet with assessments of international political, strategic and economic developments affecting Australia's national interests. It is also responsible for coordinating and evaluating Australia's foreign intelligence activities.

From June to December 2003, Varghese worked in the Prime Minister's personal office as the senior foreign and defence policy adviser to then Prime Minister John Howard.

Varghese is a career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which he joined in 1979. He has served in Vienna (1980-83), Washington (1985-88), as Minister (Political) in Tokyo (1994) and as High Commissioner to Malaysia (2000-2002).

In Canberra, Varghese has held a wide range of positions, including Deputy Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (2003) and several stints working on disarmament and arms control issues. In 1996 and 1997 he led the drafting team which produced Australia's first ever White Paper on foreign affairs and trade. Varghese also headed the department's personnel branch (1991-2). From 1998-99 he was seconded to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as head of the international division.

Varghese was born in Kenya in 1956 to Kerala-born parents who went to teach in Kenya soon after they married. He migrated to Australia as a young child. Varghese went to school in Brisbane and is a graduate and university medallist in history from the University of Queensland. He is married to Margaret, who is on leave from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. They have one son. (ANI)

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