2012 brings significant improvement in Oz-India ties
Melbourne: The year 2012 brought significant improvement in Australia-India ties, with the two sides agreeing to launch negotiations on civil nuclear deal during Prime Minister Julia Gillard`s maiden visit to New Delhi to further strengthen ties with the rising Asian power.
In what was billed as her most important foreign tour of the year, Gillard visited New Delhi in October, giving a boost to bilateral ties on all fronts including societal, economic and defence.
During her visit, Gillard made a series of announcements to win over Indian hearts and minds and to improve her country`s reputation which was tarnished after a spate of violent attacks on Indians students in last few years.
Gillard, who last year lifted a decades-long ban on uranium sale to India, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced kickstart of negotiations on civil nuclear deal, boosting defence and trade co-operation.
The two leaders also agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, apart from inking four pacts.
She also made announcement to award `Order of Australian Medal` to legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Australia fared well to harness the synergies of India with Gillard releasing the White Paper on Australia`s place in the Asian Century that identified India as "a key nation".
"In a century of growth and change, our interests are closer than they have ever been. We share a region of the world and we share an ocean," Gillard said during India visit.
She announced a desire for greater military cooperation for the Indian Ocean, which lies between the two countries, underlining India`s growing importance on the world stage.
Australia, the world`s 12th largest economy, in the past focused primarily on China, but it now ranks a relationship with New Delhi as one of its top bilateral priorities, and good economic ties as vital to its future prosperity.