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Negative shift in India-Australia ties, admits official

world Updated: Feb 11, 2010 14:06 IST

IANS
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There has been a "negative" shift in the relationship between Australia and India, admitted a senior official Thursday, adding "there has been damage to our reputation and standing" following the string of attacks on Indians in the country.

"There has been a shift and that shift has been negative," Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Dennis Richardson told a Senate hearing Thursday.

"There has been damage to our reputation and standing," Australian news agency AAP quoted him as saying.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith earlier this week said: "We need to treat the relationship like a Test match and work with diligence, dedication, application and perseverance day in and day out to extend the partnership."

Queensland Liberal Senator Russell Trood asked for the number of Indian people visiting or leaving Australia in the wake of the attacks. But the department told him those numbers were not available.

There has been a spate of assaults on Indians in Australia, causing an outcry in India. The vicious attacks strained relationship between New Delhi and Canberra.

One of the attacks proved fatal. Nitin Garg was fatally stabbed Jan 2 in Melbourne while he was going to work.