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Australian PM says attacks deplorable, promises action

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd terms the spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia as 'deplorable' and assures that his government was working to bring those responsible to justice "as a matter of urgency".

india Updated: Jun 01, 2009 12:36 IST

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday termed the spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia as 'deplorable' and assured that his government was working to bring those responsible to justice "as a matter of urgency".

Rudd told the Parliament that he has spoken to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh about the attacks that saw hundreds of students take to the streets in Melbourne.

"I speak on behalf of all Australians when I say that we deplore and condemn these attacks," he said.

"I said to Prime Minister Singh that the more than 90,000 Indian students in Australia are welcome guests in our country" he said, adding government will work closely with the states and territories "as a matter of urgency" to work on ways to help international students feel safer.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull described the attacks as "profoundly un-Australian".

"These students are guests in our country and this recent violent behaviour has the potential to do great damage to the reputation of Australia as a destination of choice," he said.

Commenting on the issue, trade Minister Simon Crean also said Indian authorities raised concerns about students being targeted more than a year ago. He said their complaints were being taken up seriously.

"There's no point sending your loved ones here to study if they feel under threat," Crean said.

"I think that this has been an issue that we've tried to address now for a number of months. We will continue to work on it; I think we can get on top of it."

Police said they detained 18 students for breaching peace and the other protesters, part of a massive rally, have now disbanded.