Australia on Tuesday reiterated it was determined to look into concerns about the safety and security of Indian students and that those found attacking Indian nationals would face the “full force of law”.
Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said this during the second foreign minister's framework dialogue with his Indian counterpart S M Krishna on Tuesday. The meeting marked the start of a five-day visit by Smith, the second within a year.
A joint statement released after the meeting said the Australian federal and provincial governments were "determined to address concerns about the safety and well-being of Indian students in Australia”.
He said Australia had a “zero tolerance approach towards violence and racial prejudice”. “People who had committed offences against Indian nationals would face the full force of law,” he said.
In the past six months, at least 30 people of Indian origin, most of them students, have been attacked Down Under.
Smith also pointed out that Australia had introduced a legislation which required all international education providers to re-register by the end of 2010.
India said it was committed to working with Australia to ensure that education links were “not compromised by poor quality education providers and unscrupulous education agent”.
Smith's visit will be the ninth to the country by an Australian minister since 2008 while during the same period, 10 Indian ministers have made similar trips to Australia.
In the last four months alone, there has been a visit by Victoria state premier John Brumby to give safety assurances after attacks on Indian students followed by similar high-profile trips by Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans, Treasurer Wayne Swan and education group manager Colin Walters.
In Tuesday's joint statement, the Australian foreign minister reaffirmed support for India's candidature for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council and also for membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic cooperation.
On climate change, both ministers stressed the need for political will to reach a successful outcome at the Copenhagen summit on climate change.
Besides, India and Australia have agreed to step up cooperation in the energy sector. Both countries are also currently preparing a report on the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement.
Smith will later travel to Mumbai, where he is expected to meet officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian business figures besides delivering an address to the Asia Society.
He will also attend a commemoration service for those who were killed in the Mumbai terror attacks in November last year, including two Australians.
"Australia expressed its solidarity with India at the time and we will continue to work with India and other countries to tackle terrorism and extremism," he said.