Australian foreign minister arriving to discuss attacks

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) Assurance to India about its keenness to tackle incidents of attacks on Indian students high on his agenda, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith arrives here Tuesday to discuss with Indian authorities the steps taken by his government to solve the problem.

‘(I) will brief the Indian government on the actions taken by authorities to create a safe and rewarding study environment for Indian students in Australia,’ Smith said in a statement in Melbourne.

Smith will also watch an Australia-India hockey match at the ongoing World Cup here Tuesday.

The three-day visit comes a month after External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna met Smith in London to express concern over mounting attacks, including some racial, on Indian students in Australia. This will be Smith’s third visit as foreign minister since 2007.

‘I will meet with Krishna, following on from our meeting in London in January. Krishna and I will discuss Australia’s and India’s close cooperation in trying to solve the recent problems faced by some Indians in Australia,’ Smith said.

There has been a flurry of visits to India by top Australian authorities, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard, in the recent past.

The visits were aimed at reassuring India that Australia was a safe destination for Indians to study and work in. Over 100 cases of attacks on Indians in Australia have been reported since last year. The assaults have affected bilateral ties and have also hurt Australia’s education sector.

Also on Smith’s agenda is the security preparedness for the Commonwealth Games to be held in New Delhi Oct 3-14.

The concerns follow terror threats by Pakistan-based militants to international sporting events in India, including the ongoing Hockey World Cup.

‘I will seek an update on security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games,’ he said. Smith is expected to visit the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which will serve as the main stadium for the games.

He will join Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal to watch Australia and India play a Hockey World Cup game in the national capital Tuesday.

‘My visit to India will advance Australia and India’s bilateral, regional and international cooperation under the framework of the Australia-India Strategic Partnership,’ he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *