Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Sunday asserted that “we have been working very hard with the Indian government” over the issue of safety of Indian students.
Speaking to the press on the eve of his five-day visit to India, Mr. Smith said Canberra was also “making the point to the Indian people that we condemn absolutely, any isolated attacks against students in Australia, whether they are Indians or from other countries.”
It is clear from the official transcript, as obtained, that Mr. Smith addressed Australia’s own domestic dimension, too, about India’s concerns. He said: “We have also been working very hard both with immigration and education authorities to ensure that there is rigour [of safety and standards] in the arrangements so far as Indian students coming to Australia is concerned.”
On the question of security for the Australian cricket team during their planned tour of India later this month, he said Canberra would make available to Cricket Australia “all of the relevant travel and other advice.” This was in line with the practice initiated “in recent times” and this was so “not just in the case of South Asia.” However, “just as my travel is a matter for my discretion, so that is a matter for the exercise of Cricket Australia’s discretion.”
About security in India for the Commonwealth Games next year, Mr. Smith, who will “inspect” the relevant “facilities” during his tour of India, said: “Planning, including security planning ... is a matter where Australia wants to [work] and is working closely in cooperation with India, as other Commonwealth countries are. But clearly, this is a matter which India has very high on its list. It wants to have successful Commonwealth Games; we certainly want that for India as well.”
In a separate media statement on his visit to India for the sixth round of Australia-India Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, he said the two sides “will discuss advancing bilateral, regional, and international cooperation.”
He identified three dimensions of cooperation that would define the political ambience of this dialogue. India and Australia were “both members of the G20 (Group of 20),” now recognised as a global forum on economic issues. Also, the “strong people-to-people links” between Australia and India “are increasing.” On another front, he cited defence cooperation, counter-terrorism, and nuclear non-proliferation as the strategic dimension of closer cooperation.
He did not, however, say whether the talks would cover any new initiative on the issue of Australia’s disinclination to sell uranium to India.
Besides holding talks with External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and Home Minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi, Mr. Smith will travel to Mumbai for an interaction with top Reserve Bank of India officials.