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Australian PM arrives tomorrow on four-day visit

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 04: Australian Prime Minister John Howard arrives here tomorrow (Mar 05, 2006) on a four-day visit which will be marked by signing of a number of agreements with India on trade, defence, science and air services.

The visit of Mr Howard, who will also cover Mumbai and Chennai, provides 'important opportunity' to advance Canberra's foreign and trade policy interests with India, an Australian press note said today.

During the visit, Mr Howard would call on President A P J Abdul Kalam and hold talks, among others with, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is expected to apprise his Australian counterpart of the historic Indo-US nuclear deal.

This is the second visit by the Australian Prime Minister in six years. He would be accompanied by a 20-member business delegation, comprising CEOs of top companies.

Mr Howard, who will reach here in the evening, will have his official engagements on Monday after which he will leave for Mumbai and Chennai.

UPA Chairperson Sonia GAndhi and Leader of Opposition L K Advani will call on him.

In 2005, the two-way trade between Australia and India in goods and services had stood at 9.4 billion dollars. ''My visit will be a timely opportunity to encourage further expansion in our already productive relationship,'' Mr Howard.

Acknowledging that India was an increasingly influential global and regional player whose interests converged with his country, he said his discussions during the visit would add impetus to ''our strategic relationship.'' Australia, a key member of the nuclear suppliers' group (NSG), has welcomed the Indo-US nuke deal, but has refused to supply fuel to India as New Delhi was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).


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