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Australian PM to arrive in India on Sunday

John Howard would begin a four-day visit to India on Sunday, to strengthen bilateral trade and strategic relations.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 16:36 IST

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has said that he will pay a four-day visit to India beginning Sunday, to strengthen bilateral trade and enhance "strategic" relations.

Howard, who last visited India in 2000, will be accompanied by a 20-strong business delegation, including leaders from some of Australia's top companies.

His visit follows the high-profile three-day trip to India by US President George W Bush, which was marked by the signing of the historic Indo-US nuclear pact.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday welcomed the Indo-US nuclear deal, but ruled out lifting a ban on uranium exports to India since it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Ahead of his visit, Howard in a statement said today: "India is an increasingly influential global and regional player whose interests converge with Australia's... The discussions I will have while in India will add impetus to our growing strategic relationship."

"During my visit it is anticipated that a number of agreements will be signed in various fields including trade, defence, science and air services," he said.

Howard touches down in New Delhi on Sunday night for the first leg of the four-day visit, that will also take him to Mumbai and Chennai.

The Australian leader will meet President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and various cabinet ministers.

First Published: Mar 04, 2006 15:46 IST