Australian Foreign Minister on five-day visit to India

New Delhi, Sept. 8 : Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith will visit India from September 8 to September 12. This will be his first visit to India as his country''s Foreign Minister.

Speaking ahead of his visit, Smith said: "My visit reflects Australia’s intention to take India to the front line of its international relationships. In New Delhi, I will meet my counterpart, Minister of External Affairs, Mr Pranab Mukherjee. He and I will continue the broad-ranging and productive talks we had in June when I hosted Mr Mukherjee in Canberra for the fifth Australia-India Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue."

Describing Australia and India as natural partners, Smith said relations between the two countries were very good, but there is immense potential to do more.

"My visit underlines Australia’s strong commitment to raise the bilateral relationship to a significantly higher level across a wide range of areas. In New Delhi, I will meet a range of key political figures. I will make a speech on bilateral relations at the Indian Council for World Affairs, the Indian partner to the Australia-India Roundtable which I announced with Mr Mukherjee in June this year," he said in his statement.

The inaugural meeting of the Roundtable will be hosted by the Lowy Institute in November this year. The Roundtable will bring together leading individuals from both countries every year to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing Australia and India in the twenty first century.

He also said that he would be visiting Chennai, a city attracting increasing focus for Australian business.

He will be meeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and State Governor S. S. Barnala, besides key business representatives.

He also confirmed that he would be visiting the MRF Pace Academy, which has used the expertise of former Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee to develop young pace bowlers from India and the Asian region.

The visit will end with a trip to Hyderabad to interact with honchos of major IT companies and meetings with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. Rajshekhara Reddy and the States Minister of Major Industries, besides visits to a number of high-tech projects which offer business opportunities for Australia. (ANI)