Your Excellency, Prime Minister Tony Abbott Friends from the Media
I am delighted to welcome Prime Minister Tony Abbott to India. We are fortunate to host him as our government`s first guest on a State Visit to India, because we consider Australia to be a very important strategic partner and we wish to deepen our relations further.
India and Australia are peace-loving democratic nations, blessed with great diversity in their societies. We are linked by the Indian Ocean. Australia can make a very important contribution to India`s development. India is a resource-constrained country and can meet a considerable part of its requirements from Australia, a country blessed with abundant natural resources. There are enormous possibilities in the area of manufacturing and infrastructure. In the coming years, India can emerge as a major source of highly skilled human resources.
We have growing cooperation in science, education and skill development. More than 400,000 people of India origin in Australia are making significant contribution to the Australian society and also constitute an effective bridge of friendship between the two countries.
India and Australia must not only work together with a sense of priority to promote peace and prosperity in Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, but also take on the responsibility of bringing together all other countries in this endeavour.
Prime Minister Abbott and I have had detailed discussions on enhancing our cooperation in all areas of our relationship.
At first, I would like to convey to Prime Minister Abbott the deep sense of gratitude of 1.25 billion people of India for the efforts he has made to bring with him two ancient statues that were stolen from India.
The moment we had conveyed our request for the return of these statues, his government took this decision with great speed. Prime Minister Abbott and the people of Australian have shown enormous respect and regard not only for our ancient treasure, but also for our cultural heritage.
The signing of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement is a historic milestone in our relationship. It is a reflection of a new level of mutual trust and confidence in our relationship and will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation. It will support India`s efforts to fuel its growth with clean energy and minimize the carbon footprint of its growth.
Regular and robust dialogue provides a strong foundation for a strong strategic partnership. Prime Minister Abbott and I have decided to enhance our political dialogue and increase our security and defence cooperation, to which we attach great importance in our relationship. We will also enhance exchanges between elected representatives in the Parliament and state assemblies of the two countries.
There has been no prime ministerial visit from India since 1986. I have accepted Prime Minister Abbott`s invitation to pay a bilateral visit to Australia after the G 20 Summit. We will try and meet each other at every available opportunity. We will increase our dialogue at senior officials` level, including in the political, economic and security areas. We will also increase our consultation and coordination in important forums like the Indian Ocean Region Association and East Asia Summit.
We will hold our first bilateral naval exercise in 2015 and intend to enhance our exercises in the coming years. Our two countries can contribute to a variety of objectives in the Indian Ocean Region, including in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We will also join together in the commemoration of 100 years of the First World War, in which our soldiers fought together. We will also increase our security cooperation to counter terrorism, cyber threats and other security challenges.
There are vast possibilities for increasing trade and investment cooperation. Prime Minister Abbott has been supportive of Indian investors in Australia and has assured me of speedy clearances for Indian investment proposals in the pipeline. I invited Australian investments into India, including in infrastructure and high technology areas.
We are concerned about the decline in bilateral trade in the last two years. We have committed to an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
I am delighted that we are announcing fresh funding for the Australia India Strategic Research Fund, which supports research activities in areas like clean energy, water, health, environment and food processing.
I am pleased that Prime Minister Abbott has announced a new Colombo Plan to increase the flow of Australian students to India. Increase in youth exchanges will deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.
Prime Minister Abbott has assured me of full cooperation in the area of skill development, which is a priority sector for me. We have also decided to promote cooperation in higher education, especially at the level of universities, to create world class educational opportunities for Indian youth.
Our two countries are bound by shared love for cricket and hockey. Today, I have requested Prime Minister Abbott for cooperation in establishing sports universities in India.
We welcomed the growing people-to-people ties, reflected in the increasing flow of students and tourists between the two countries.
We cooperate with each other in multilateral forums. I thanked Prime Minister Abbott for the continuing Australian support for India`s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
I am keenly looking forward to the G 20 Summit. I am confident that under the leadership of Prime Minister Abbott, G 20 will be able to effectively address the global challenges. I also conveyed to him our best wishes for hosting the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
I am very satisfied with our meeting today. I believe that it will set a new direction in our relationship. I am confident that we will make further progress on our bilateral agenda before the November Summit. I am also confident that Australia will emerge as a strong strategic partner for India a very important part of our Look East Policy.