Indian democracy admirable: Gillard

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Julia Gillard
Washington, Mar 9: At a time when people in the Middle East are making moves to steer the region towards democracy, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today said that the world admired India's example as a true democracy.

"Momentous as the changes in the Middle East are, I believe it is in the Asia-Pacific where the global order is changing the most. We admire India's example as a true democracy," Gillard said in her address to the joint session of the US Congress.

"We never forget Indonesia's transition to create the world''s third-largest democracy in the world's largest Islamic country. We applaud China's lifting some 500 million people out of poverty. The centre of global strategic and economic weight is shifting to this region. The rise of the Asia-Pacific will define our times," she said.

Gillard acknowledged that Australia's relationship with China is important and complex.

"My guiding principle is that prosperity can be shared," she said. "Our growing engagement with key countries in the region, like Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia, is enormously welcome," she added.

Gillard, who is on her first official visit to the US after becoming Australia's first woman prime minister said, "We will work closely with you to strengthen the fabric of these relationships and underpin regional stability, strengthening regional institutions, so that the countries of the Asia-Pacific increasingly manage the frictions of a growing and changing Asia-Pacific".

Gillard said new global realities and the emerging economic weight of countries like China, India and Brazil meant the vital forum for the global response was the leaders of the G-20 nations.

"My predecessor, Kevin Rudd, worked hard to ensure this was so. The world needed a global response to the economic crisis, and global leadership was vital. Together the G-20 coordinated USD 5 trillion in fiscal stimulus for the global economy," she said.

"While there has been very real pain, the global response averted true economic disaster. Economic stimulus has been crucial to limit the worst effects of the downturn.

Economic reform is crucial now to deliver the best hopes for a strong recovery," she added.

PTI

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