New Delhi: On a damage control mission,
Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Wednesday held
wide-ranging discussions with his Indian counterpart SM
Krishna on attacks on Indians, a number of which has been
acknowledged as "racist" by the visiting leader.
During the meeting, Krishna is understood to have
conveyed India`s concern over the safety of its students and
asked for more effective steps to ensure the security of
Smith, who is on a three-day visit here, has already
acknowledged that some of the attacks were racist and had
racial overtones. "These are absolutely contemptible. We are
doing a range of things in future to better portray modern
Australia. We want to underline the strength of relationship
between India and Australia," he said.
Earlier in the day, the Australian Foreign Minister met
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and briefed him about the initiatives
taken by the Australian government to ensure safety and
security of Indian students there.
The two also discussed about the entry of foreign
educational institutions in India under the proposed Foreign
Education Providers Bill.
Smith also met Home Minister P Chidambaram and the two
discussed security preparations for the upcoming Commonwealth
Games to be held here from October 3.
According to sources, Smith apprised Chidambaram about
the steps being taken by his government to prevent attacks on
Indians and punish those responsible for earlier assaults.
The Australian minister said 70 cases have been filed
into the attacks on Indians, many of which were racist in
nature, sources said.
The Home Minister, in turn, conveyed to Smith India`s
expectations about ensuring safety and security of its
The two leaders also discussed issues related to the
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty which was signed in July 2008
but is yet to be ratified, the sources said.
The assaults on Indian students had started in May last
year and since then over 100 Indians have been victim of
attacks, putting bilateral ties under stress.
Krishna and Smith had met in London last year when the
Australian leader had provided Krishna with extensive dossiers
containing information about the steps taken by Australia to
ensure safety and security of Indians.
There have been a series of visits to India by top
Australian leaders, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and
his deputy Julia Gillard, to allay concerns in the wake of
assaults on Indian students.
There are about 1.2 lakh students out of nearly five lakh
Indians in Australia, according to official data.