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Australian foreign minister to visit India

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith begins a five-day visit to India on Tuesday, his second within a year, during which he will co-chair the sixth foreign ministers' framework dialogue and meet political and business leaders in Delhi and Mumbai.

india Updated: Oct 12, 2009 17:13 IST

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith begins a five-day visit to India on Tuesday, his second within a year, during which he will co-chair the sixth foreign ministers' framework dialogue and meet political and business leaders in Delhi and Mumbai.

"I will also discuss our common interests and international political and economic issues with other Indian officials in New Delhi. Australia and India, both members of the G20, are seeing bilateral trade and investments grow rapidly and India is now Australia's fifth largest export market," Smith said in a statement released by his office.

"Cooperation is growing in energy security, climate change and food security."

Smith's visit will be the ninth visit by an Australian minister since 2008 while during the same period, ten Indian ministers have made similar trips to Australia.

In the last four months alone, there have been visits 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.

Besides bilateral talks, Smith will also inspect the Commonwealth Games facilities in Delhi and inaugurate a photographic exhibition "All of Us" that celebrates Australia's cultural diversity and is being organised in collaboration with the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF).

In Mumbai, Smith is expected to meet up with officials in 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.