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Australia: PM takes selfies, meets world leaders

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brisbane on Friday fresh from a breakthrough agreement with the US on food security that is likely to boost his image at the weekend G20 summit, where retrieving black money will be high on his agenda.

india Updated: Nov 15, 2014 09:16 IST
Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi-File-Photo
Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi-File-Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Brisbane on Friday fresh from a breakthrough agreement with the US on food security that is likely to boost his image at the weekend G20 summit, where retrieving black money will be high on his agenda.

The deal, which paves the way for a global trade pact at next month's World Trade Organization (WTO) council meet, drew praise from leaders of leading industrial nations Japan and the UK as well as the European Union during Modi's meetings with his British and Japanese counterparts, David Cameron and Shinzo Abe, and EU president Herman von Rompuy.

"The three leaders congratulated the PM and extended their support when the matter comes up before the World Trade Organization (WTO). They also said all the countries can now move together," foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

The Indo-US deal is expected to give Modi the leverage to push at the G-20 summit India's agenda to dig up black money stashed abroad and to step up global cooperation against cross-border tax avoidance and evasion.

"A key issue for me would be to highlight the importance of international cooperation against black money," Modi said before he left for his three-nation tour, underscoring the promise he made before the general elections in May.

It was a sunny day at Brisbane as Modi stepped out of his Special Air India plane at the international airport after an overnight flight from Myanmar where he attended two back-to-back international summits and had a string of bilateral meetings.

"Reached Brisbane. It is bright and sunny outside," Modi tweeted.

The first Indian Prime Minister to visit Australia since Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, Modi's first engagement of the day was a visit to the Queensland University of Technology where he wrote on an agricultural robot a message in Gujarati: "Research is the mother of development."

He also wished the students on Children's Day and indulged them with a selfie session. "I am fortunate to be among children on Chacha Nehru's birthday," an MEA tweet quoted Modi as saying. But the highlight of the day was his dinner with Abe and the bonhomie between the two leaders who follow each other on Twitter. "Happy to meet you once again," he told Abe, who hosted the dinner for Modi in their second interaction in three months.

The Prime Minister had his first meeting with Cameron who said relations with India are at the "top of the priorities of UK's foreign policy".

Modi is expected to use the G20 summit of the world's biggest developed and emerging economies, to flag India's concerns over "jobless growth" prospects.

WTO secretary-general Roberto Azevedo said the resolution of the row between India and the US over food subsidies has breathed new life into the global organization while EU chief Rompuy told Modi the 28-nation bloc was keen on "re-engaging" with India in all areas, especially trade.

Modi got off to a flying start even before the G20 summit began with US president Barack Obama described him "as a man of action" during their meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Myanmar.