‘There is a perception deficit between Indians and Australians...but the last decade was the most productive we’ve had’
Y P Rajesh: When you came here at the beginning of 2010, you said it was a very difficult period in bilateral relations but you could deal with it. How well do you think you have dealt with it in the last three years?
Peter Varghese: What we have done in the last three years is to remove two very big obstacles that were in the way of the relationship progressing. The first was the students’ safety issue which, I think, we can now put behind us. At the government level, it’s no longer an issue and even on the ground we are seeing a large measure of confidence among the students. The second big obstacle in the relationship was uranium. Our Prime Minister led the effort to change her party policy and succeeded in that. Now the government policy has also changed. So, as I leave, I think we have cleared the air in the relationship. Prime Minister (Julia) Gillard’s visit in October was a very important step. It signalled a new phase in the relationship. We have agreed that our two Prime Ministers will meet every year. We also agreed on a ministerial-level dialogue on energy security. We also agreed on a water technology partnership—Australia is the driest continent in the world
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