India-Australia strategic partnership growing fast, needs to be deepened: Rudd

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New Delhi, Nov.12 (ANI): Visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday described the relationship between his country and India as one that was growing fast in the 21st century, and that every effort must be availed to take these ties to a higher and meaningful level, including from the strategic perspective.

Addressing the Second Australia-India Roundtable co-hosted by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and the Lowy Institute and focussing on strategic affairs and the Australia-India relationship, Rudd said: "Ours is a relationship growing fast, but with much room to grow further. We should seize the opportunities that our converging interests create. Now, is the time to broaden and deepen this relationship, to develop the structural linkages across our economies, which will serve us well in the long term."

He also called for building "our shared strategic interests in Asia and the Indian Ocean", and to reinvigorate the way both Australia and India work together in multilateral forums.

There was also a need to use the ties of migration, education, cultural exchange and tourism to broaden the engagement between our two societies, he added.

"I want to see us be ambitious in the relationship, to forge a genuine strategic partnership underpinned by strong economic, energy and security frameworks that deliver lasting mutual benefits for our peoples and for the peoples of this great region of the 21st century Asia," he said.

He said that there was much to be had in the exchange of ideas because "ideas have so much power to shape how we see the world, how we act in the world - and how we shape our world's future together."

Recalling his over 30-year-long fascination with Asia, Rudd said: "I became fascinated by the conceptualisations of Asia from the continent itself. I became fascinated by the vision of Asia's future as captured 30 years earlier by Prime Minister Nehru and the newly emerging modern India."

Recalling the vision for Asia as spelled out by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Rudd said that back in 1947, the latter had said that Asia had become important again in world affairs, and therefore ,all countries of Asia have to meet together on an equal basis in a common task and endeavour."

Rudd said that he fine tuned his understanding of Asia at the feet of the great professor Arthur Basham, saying that the latter's passion for Indian civilisation was infectious.

He said India's contribution to the world is both ancient and modern, ancient through the power of its civilisation and modern through its great example as the world's biggest democracy, through the impact of its economy, its science and its technology and through its engagement in the institutions of global and regional governance and the great challenges of our time.

"Our bilateral and broader regional engagement extends back to the first days of independence. Australia has, therefore, long recognised that India's strategic importance to us extends well beyond the Indian Ocean. My central message to you today is that the Australian Government sees the strengthening of the Australia-India relationship as a natural extension of Nehru's original vision," he concluded. (ANI)

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