Student attacks: Krishna heads to Australia Aug 6 to take stock


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna goes to Australia on a five-day visit Aug 6 to ascertain first-hand the problems faced by Indian students, some of whom have been victims of allegedly racist attacks, and the steps taken by Canberra to ensure their safety.

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This will be the first high-level visit from India to Australia since a spate of attacks on Indian students studying in that country began over a month ago, creating outrage in India and the diaspora community Down Under.

Krishna will meet his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith and call on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss a range of issues, including the recent attacks on Indian students that has put an otherwise growing relationship under strain.

“He will visit Sydney and Melbourne to hear first-hand, about the problems being faced by Indian students and will discuss the matter of their safety and security with the state leadership,” the external affairs ministry said here Friday ahead of Krishna’s visit.

He will “also apprise himself of the measures put in place, in this regard, by the Australian law enforcement agencies” and meet prominent members of the Indian community and Indian students, the ministry said.

He will also participate in the Annual Post Forum Dialogue Meeting of the 16-nation Pacific Island Forum (PIF), at which India is a dialogue partner, in Cairns in northeast Australia.

Last week, Smith assured Krishna when the two met in the Thai island resort of Phuket that the Australian government was doing everything possible to ensure the safety of nearly 100,000 Indian students in that country.

Smith discounted the allegedly racist nature of the attacks and explained the background against which they have taken place, arguing that they were primarily ‘law and order problems’.

Australia has sent three high-profile delegations, including its education minister and immigration minister, to India to allay anxieties about the safety of Indian students and to project the country as a ‘safe education destination’.

Nearly 100,000 Indian students study in Australia, contributing around $2 billion to the country’s economy.