Canberra, Nov 3 (ANI): Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has reportedly accepted an invitation to visit Australia next year, a move that is expected to provide a symbolic boost for Indo-Australian ties strained by assaults on Indian students and by Labor's ban on uranium sales to India.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesman for Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has confirmed that the 78-year-old Indian leader had agreed to an "official bilateral visit" after being invited by Gillard at the East Asia Summit in Hanoi on Saturday.
She also told Dr Singh that appropriate steps would be taken to ensure a safe environment for overseas students in Australia, including reforms to immigration rules.
It will be the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister since Bob Hawke hosted Rajiv Gandhi in 1986.
However, no dates have been confirmed as of now, but it is expected that the trip would take place before or after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Perth in October, the paper said.
Australia's reputation in India has been damaged by publicity about a series of attacks on Indians in Melbourne and Sydney last year and early this year.
Australian officials have been trying for several years to arrange for Dr Singh to visit.
The government says it wants to put India at the "front rank" of its international relationships. Trade and investment between the two has grown rapidly and India is now Australia's fourth-biggest export market, the paper added. (ANI)