India, Australia Relations Are Lively Now But Need To Be Exciting

New Delhi, April 23: | Updated: Apr 24 2002, 05:30am hrs
Signalling a warming up of Australias relations with India, Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said here on Tuesday that the bilateral relationship had moved from one that was growing, and had been partly troubled, to one that is lively. For the relationship to move from lively to exciting it would take increased economic cooperation and the pursuit of faster economic reforms within India.

Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer delivering a lecture on Australia and India: Partners into the Future at the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi on Monday
During a two-hour long meeting with the external affairs minister Jaswant Singh, the Australian minister conveyed views about enhanced trade and economic relations, besides touching upon an entire gamut of bilateral issues. The campaign against international terrorism figured prominently in the talks. Afghanistan issue also figured in the talks.

Mr Downer said that Australia was looking for strengthening bilateral ties with India and talked about furthering economic and trade ties paving the way for growth.

Responding to a query, Mr Downer said that Australia was looking for a military to military cooperation with India and warned Pakistan to curb terrorism on its soil, while justifying Indias concerns regarding cross-border terrorism in the wake of the December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament.

Both the ministers talked about expanding the strategic dialogue between the two countries. Mr Downer said that both the countries shared concerns about terrorism. And the important component against terrorism is the role played by India to fight against terrorism.

The Australian foreign minister said while Australia was aware of the steps taken by General Pervez Musharraf against terrorism, there was still much needed to be done.

Referring to the strong existing bilateral relations between Australia and China, Mr Downer urged India to concentrate more on strengthening the business relationship between the two countries and talked about investmentissues. Mr Downer also met home minister LK Advani and defence minister George Fernandes.

Several other issues including regional security, the commonwealth and a broad range of bilateral and regional matters came up for discussion with the foreign minister.

The Australian minister said that his country had sent a special force to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban and said that the war against terrorism was far from over.