PM Modi arrives in Canberra, summit talks with Abbott tomorrow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott for summit talks here tomorrow during which the two countries are expected to sign a series of pacts on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners and combating narcotics trade.
Canberra: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott for summit talks here tomorrow during which the two countries are expected to sign a series of pacts on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners and combating narcotics trade.
Modi arrived here tonight on the third leg of his four-city tour of Australia from Sydney-- a short 30-minute flight-- on a special Air India plane.
In a departure from protocol, Modi was received by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the Defence Establishment Fairbaim, reflecting the significance attached by Australia to the visit of the prime minister that comes 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi. Foreign dignitaries are usually not received at that level when they arrive in the night.
The deal on social security is expected to make it easier to swap staff between the two countries and is likely to boost two-way investment.
The visit of Modi, who arrived in Brisbane last Friday, to attend the G20 summit on the second leg of this three-nation 10-day tour, is aimed at forging a strategic partnership with Australia to promote India's economic goals and security interests, including maritime security.
Modi will also address the Federal Parliament after his talks with Abbott.
MoUs on culture and tourism are also expected to be signed tomorrow.
Before he embarked on his visit, Modi had said his trip to Australia is both special and historic.
"While we have much in common with Australia, our political, strategic and economic relations have been below potential," Modi said ahead of his visit.
Pitching for closer strategic partnership with Australia, he said it will support India's economic goals, "promote our security interests, including maritime security, and reinforce our efforts to foster a climate of peace and stability in our extended continental and maritime neighbourhood."
The significance of Modi's visit could be gauged from the fact from an editorial in a leading daily 'The Australian' said that "it would be hard to overstate the economic, political and strategic significance of the official visit".
The edit noted that the overdue end of the ban on uranium sales announced by Abbott in New Delhi in September has done much to place the India-Australia ties on a new footing.
Modi and Abbott had summit talks in Delhi last month during which India and Australia sealed a landmark civil nuclear deal that will facilitate sale of uranium to New Delhi.
The two leaders had directed their respective negotiators to conclude the administrative arrangements pertaining to the civil nuclear pact at an early date that will facilitate uranium trade.
Australia has about 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually. India and Australia had commenced negotiations for the sale of uranium in early 2012.
In his meetings with Abbott, Modi is expected to discuss trade, energy and security, including the fight against the dreaded terror group Islamic State (IS). He is also expected to discuss avenues to remove red tape between the two countries.
Abbott, who shared a personal warmth with Modi during the just concluded G20 summit, is moving to boost Australia's ties with India.
During their September talks, Modi and Abbott pledged closer economic and strategic ties and have moved to begin negotiations on a free-trade agreement.
The two-way trade stands at a relatively modest USD 15 billion a year compared with USD 150 billion for Australia's two-way trade with China.
The expected tourism MoU comes after Modi and Abbott agreed in September to begin talks on an agreement on work and holiday visas between the two countries.
Addressing the Indian community at Sydney, Modi announced visa on arrival for Australian tourists.
The counter-narcotics agreement is expected to help Australia address India's emergence as a shipment point for narcotics from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The two leaders also signed a series of MoUs when Abbott was in India, including co-operation in sport, the renewal of an agreement on water resources management and co-operation in technical vocational education and training.
Modi had said Australia could help India with the development of sports universities.
The personal relationship between the two men was strengthened when Abbott handed back two stolen antiquities ? the Shiva Nataraja and Ardhanariswara idols ? that had been inadvertently bought by Australian galleries.