Oz PM to visit to India, Singapore

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Canberra (Australia), Nov.9 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd heads to India and Singapore this week.

Stronger relations with New Delhi have been a priority for the Rudd Government, and Rudd will undertake a two-day visit to Mumbai and New Delhi, beginning Wednesday, reports Fox News.

Rudd is the most senior member of the government to tread the path to India after an outcry over the treatment of Indian students in Australia.

Education is Australia's third biggest export, bringing in over 15 billion dollars each year. India sends the second largest number of students to Australia after China but there are fears that figure could take a hit after recent events.

The highlight of Rudd's visit will be a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday.

He will also get a chance to see cricket in Mumbai and meet a variety of Indian business leaders.

An issue Canberra and New Delhi haven't seen eye to eye on is the Rudd government's refusal to sell uranium to India because it isn't a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The matter will be raised during the visit ahead of a review of the NPT next year.

Australia and India may use the visit to announce the start of negotiations towards a free trade agreement after a feasibility study reportedly found a deal to be favourable to both countries.

India is Australia's fourth biggest export market and, like China, is crucial to growth prospects over the coming decades.

From India, Rudd heads to Singapore for the 17th annual summit of leaders from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, on November 14-15.

The Prime Minister will use his three-day visit to focus on a range of issues, including climate change, a conclusion to the Doha round of world trade talks and his long-term proposal for an Asia-Pacific Community.

Other world leaders heading to Singapore include United States President Barack Obama, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Rudd is expected to have a formal meeting with Dr Yudhoyono but it is unclear whether he will meet Hu or Obama officially or on the sidelines of the summit.

Rudd will return home next Monday. (ANI)

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