Oz Foreign Affairs and Trade dept admits racist attacks have damaged Indian relationship

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Melbourne, Feb 11 (ANI): Australia has finally admitted that the relationship with India has been damaged after a spate of racist attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in recent months.

"There has been a shift and that shift has been negative. There has been damage to our reputation and standing," said Dennis Richardson, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Dennis Richardson told a Senate hearing on Thursday that the department was trying to counter that by bringing Indian opinion leaders to Australia to gauge the atmosphere of the country.

The Indian media has reacted strongly to the attacks with some raising suggestions of racism across the wider Australian community.

Earlier this week Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith used a cricketing metaphor to describe the government's new approach to the diplomatic relationship, The Age reports.

"I said we needed to treat the relationship like a Test match and work with diligence, dedication, application and perseverance day in and day out to extend the partnership," Smith said.

There was further evidence that the crisis in the relationship was being dealt with at the highest levels of government with the inquiry hearing Richardson and National Security Adviser Duncan Lewis had met with Helen Silver from the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.

But that was only once and meetings had since become telephone hook-ups, Richardson said. (ANI)

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