Australian PM Scott Morrison defers India visit amid bushfire crisis
Earlier on Friday, Morrison had said the plan to travel to India was “still in place”. Hours later, he told the media he was “inclined not to proceed” with the trip.Updated: Jan 03, 2020 19:35 IST
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit to India in January has been put off to later in the year because of the bushfire crisis, people familiar with developments said on Friday.
“The visit is being postponed to a mutually convenient time,” said a person who declined to be named.
A statement from the external affairs ministry on a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Morrison on Friday said the Indian leader “looked forward to welcoming the Prime Minister of Australia...on a State Visit at a mutually convenient time later in the year”. The statement did not give details.
Morrison had announced last October that he had accepted Modi’s invitation to visit India. He was expected to travel on January 13 to New Delhi, where he was to deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue the following day.
Earlier on Friday, Morrison had said the plan to travel to India was “still in place”. Hours later, he told the media he was “inclined not to proceed” with the trip.
Morrison has faced criticism for his response to the bushfires, which have killed 18 people and destroyed more than 1,200 houses since September, and his government’s coal export policy that some experts say has contributed to climate change.
During the phone conversation, Modi expressed condolences on behalf of Indians for the damage to life and property due to the severe and prolonged bushfires. He offered “India’s unstinted support” to Australia and its people during the “unprecedented natural calamity”.
Expressing satisfaction at progress in bilateral relations, Modi reiterated India’s commitment to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia.