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PM Modi arrives in Canberra, summit talks with Tony Abbott tomorrow

PTI 17 Nov 2014, 19:52:37 PM IST

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.