Rudd to visit Mumbai, Delhi, to discuss strategic, trade ties

Posted By: Staff
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New Delhi, Nov.11 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will arrive in Mumbai this evening on a short six hour visit before emplaning for national capital New Delhi for talks with the Indian leadership, which are scheduled for Thursday.

Rudd is expected in Delhi at around 11.30 p.m.

He will begin his program on Thursday with a meeting with Dr. R.K. Pachauri, chief of TERI and thereafter will move to India Gate to pay homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

Before calling on the President of India, Pratibha Devisingh Patil at 11 a.m., Rudd will visit the National Museum.

On Thursday afternoon, he will interact with captains of Indian industry and is expected to project Australia as an improving investor friendly destination.

He will also make an address on strategic affairs and foreign policy and open the India-Australia Round Table at the Indian Council of World Affairs.

Later in the evening, he will call on the Vice President, Hamid Ansari and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at their respective residences.

He will meet the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh for bilateral talks between 6 and 7.30 p.m. at Hyderabad House, following which a joint statement will be issued.

He will leave for Singapore on Friday morning.

Rudd is the most senior member of the government to visit India after an outcry over the treatment of Indian students in Australia, and it is expected that New Delhi will air its concerns to him during the bilateral interaction.

Education is Australia's third biggest export, bringing in over 15 billion dollars each year. India sends the second largest number of students to Australia after China but there are fears that figure could take a hit after recent events.

An issue Canberra and New Delhi haven't seen eye to eye on is the Rudd government's refusal to sell uranium to India because it isn't a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The matter will be raised during the visit ahead of a review of the NPT next year.

Australia and India may use the visit to announce the start of negotiations towards a free trade agreement after a feasibility study reportedly found a deal to be favourable to both countries.

India is Australia"s fourth biggest export market and, like China, is crucial to growth prospects over the coming decades.

From India, Rudd heads to Singapore for the 17th annual summit of leaders from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, on November 14-15.

Rudd will return home on November 16. (ANI)

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