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India, Australia to sign pact on classified info

india Updated: Jul 10, 2007 22:53 IST
Madhur Singh
Madhur Singh
Hindustan Times
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Australian defence Minister Brendan Nelson begins a three-day visit to India on Tuesday, during which he is expected to finalise an agreement on sharing classified military information with his Indian counterpart AK Antony.

Since the previously scheduled visit comes soon after the abortive terror attempts in Britain, and the arrest of Indian doctors, including one in Australia, anti-terror cooperation is also likely to figure on his agenda.

The two sides are expected to share notes and agree on areas of cooperation regarding investigation into the recent attacks. A bilateral agreement on combating international terrorism is already in place.

Australian High Commission officials, however, stressed that the visit has been in the pipeline much before the arrest of Indian doctor Mohammad Haneef in the Australian city of Brisbane in connection with the failed London and Glasgow bombing plots.

An Australian Federal Police agent is currently in India to meet intelligence officials to investigate Haneef’s antecedents. Haneef’s police remand was extended by an Australian judge for another 48 hours on Monday.

Nelson will meet both Indian Defence Minister AK Antony and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

With Antony, he will discuss intensification of defence ties and sharing of maritime security data. India and Australia already have a joint working group on maritime security. During the visit of Prime Minister John Howard in 2006, an agreement on defence cooperation was also signed.

Issues relating to the quadrilateral dialogue forum between India, Australia, Japan and the US, launched in Manila in May this year, are also likely to figure in the discussions.