Oz assures India on student safety as Krishna, Smith meet



Phuket: Against the backdrop of attacks on Indian students, Australia on Wednesday assured India that it will do everything to ensure their safety as the issue came up for discussion during a meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his counterpart Stephen Smith here.

Amid continued concern in India, Krishna will undertake a visit to Australia from August 5 during which he will meet representatives from among Indian students and from the community in violence-hit Melbourne and Sydney.

The issue of attacks was mentioned by Smith during his "pull-aside" meeting with Krishna here on the sidelines of the ASEAN ministerial meeting, officials said.

"The Australian Foreign Minister reiterated that his government would do everything to ensure safety of Indians in that country," Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs N Ravi told reporters after the meeting.

Smith explained the "background" of the attacks, which Australia says is purely a law and order issue, Ravi added.

He also gave details of the steps that Australia has already taken to ensure security of the Indians in the wake of attacks, the Secretary said.

Hosting about one lakh Indians, mostly students, Australia has been wary of the possibility of the attacks affecting their inflow. It has sent three delegations, including Immigration Minister Chris Evans, to India to try to dispel any apprehensions about going to Australia.

Evans is currently in India to inform New Delhi about the steps being taken to ensure safety of Indian students.

Ravi said attacks had stopped wherever security had been strengthened by the Australian government. "The solution is important," he said.

The MEA Secretary also pointed out that the Australian government had publicised a host of information for Indians intending to go to that country.

Krishna, who is travelling to Cairns in Australia to attend a meeting of Pacific Islands Forum where India is a dialogue partner, will also travel to Sydney and Melbourne, which have witnessed a large number of attacks on Indians, particularly students over last few months.

Ravi said Krishna and Smith reviewed the bilateral relations, while noting that the two countries have shared cordial ties.

Krishna also had a bilateral meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McMcully during which the two sides discussed a range of issues including new opportunities for sending more students to that country.

Bureau Report