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Future of India-Australia strategic ties bright: Envoy

Posted on Nov 23, 10:40PM | IANS

More than a month after the visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to India, Australia's high commissioner Peter Varghese Friday underlined a growing congruence of strategic interests with India and pushed for closer cooperation in creating an inclusive regional architecture in East Asia.

"There is a growing convergence of strategic interests between India and Australia and we are seeing issues in broadly similar terms," the Australian envoy told the Commonwealth Journalists Association.

"We have a combination of hard interests in the region," stressed the envoy.

With China's growing presence in the region on mind, the envoy said India and Australia want to see "open regionalism, an inclusive regionalism and balanced power relations in Asia."

"We want an open and inclusive regional architecture. The strategic environment is going to be decided by maritime security and freedom of navigation," Varghese said while stressing on the need for greater cooperation to build a greater coherence in the region.

The envoy also pitched for reform of global governance institutions.

"The G20 is an exciting opportunity. We need an international architecture that is more reflective of new distribution of economic and strategic power," he said.

Conjuring an upbeat picture of India-Australia ties and burgeoning Indian investment in his country, Varghese stressed that "the idea of strategic partnership has every prospect of being a reality."

The envoy also stressed on the need for China to become a part of the inclusive and balanced architecture in the region and spoke about the importance of being a responsible stakeholder in the international system.

He, however, cautioned against a policy of containment of China, saying it is better to integrate and stressed Beijing into the evolving a regional architecture.

During the visit of Gillard last month, India and Australia took a bold step to open a new chapter in their bilateral ties by deciding to start negotiations for a civil nuclear deal, that will pave the way for the sale of uranium by Canberra to New Delhi.

Seeking to recast their relationship, the two sides inked four pacts, including one on civilian space cooperation, and also announced a slew of steps to boost ties that included annual meetings at the summit level, a ministerial-level dialogue on energy security and setting up of a water technology partnership.