Australian FM to use five-day visit to enhance ties with India

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Canberra/New Delhi, Oct.12 (ANI): Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith will undertake a five-day visit of India from October 12 to October 16.

In a statement released ahead of his visit, Smith said that this would be his second visit to India as Foreign Minister and that he would staying in New Delhi and Mumbai.

"My visit to India will be the ninth visit by an Australian Minister since the beginning of 2008. In the same period, ten Indian Ministers have made visits to Australia. In New Delhi I will conduct the sixth Australia-India Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue with my Indian counterpart, Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna. I hosted the last Dialogue in Australia in June 2008. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna came to Australia in August 2009 for the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue," said Smith in his statement.

He further said that he and Krishna would discuss advancing bilateral, regional and international cooperation between Australia and India.

"I will also discuss our common interests and international political and economic issues with other Indian officials in New Delhi. Australia and India, both members of the G-20, are seeing bilateral trade and investment grow rapidly. India is now Australia's fifth largest export market," Smith said.

"Our strong people-to-people links are increasing, with greater flows of tourists, businesspeople, and students between our countries. Australia and India are also working more closely in the fields of defence cooperation, counter-terrorism and non-proliferation. Cooperation is growing in energy security, climate change and food security. I will also inspect Commonwealth Games facilities in New Delhi," his statement added.

"Australia will continue to work hard to take India to the front rank of its international relationships. Following meetings in New Delhi, I will travel to Mumbai, where I will meet with the Reserve Bank of India, senior Australian and Indian business figures and deliver an address to the Asia Society. I will also commemorate the lives lost, including those of two Australians, during last November's shocking terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Australia expressed its solidarity with India at the time and we will continue to work with India and other countries to tackle terrorism and extremism," Smith's statement concluded. (ANI)

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