• Friday, December 01, 2023


Amid Khalistan concerns, Australia opposition leader tells India soothing words

Speaking about Australian PM Anthony Albanese’s upcoming visit to China and his meeting with president Xi Jinping, Dutton said Canberra wants to see the trading relationship (with China) grow.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi with the Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton in Sydney during his visit to Australia in May 2023. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

AT a time when India has expressed concerns over the presence of Khalistani elements in various countries, Australia’s opposition leader Peter Dutton on Wednesday (1) said Canberra’s approach has been of “great respect” to the Indian government and people.

Dutton, who is currently on a visit to India, emphasised that while in Australia people can protest like they do against various political parties, being a democracy.

He further said “people need to be respectful of the equities and interests” of Australia and that includes the relationship with India.

To a question about India’s concerns about Khalistani activists in other countries including Australia against the backdrop of India-Canada row, he said, “I don’t have any comment to make in relation to the India-Canada relationship, that’s an issue between the two countries.”

“From our own perspective, I think the approach that we’ve taken is to be very respectful of the sensitivities of the requests for support,” he added.

In Australia, Dutton said, people can protest as they do against him, his party or his opponent.

“So there’s a reality to democracy in our country but people need to be respectful of the equities and interests that we have and that includes the relationship with India,” he said at a media interaction in New Delhi.

He said that a lot of work has been done between respective agencies, and between the police who have monitored activities that they are concerned about and an opportunity for that to be conveyed back to authorities here in India as well.

“…That’s the approach that we’ve taken, one of great respect to the Indian government and to people of India,” he said.

Sharing his views on the recently operationalised free trade pact between the two nations — the India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), Dutton emphasised the importance of both sides”to continue to build on the strengths as they really exist and to look for the opportunities”.

Sharing his views on avenues for bilateral cooperation, Dutton said he senses “a very significant opportunity” in the agriculture space, education sector and critical minerals and mining. On the other hand, Australia has a great opportunity to provide for India’s energy security, Dutton said, adding that there are emerging opportunities in the defence sector as well.

“We need to think about the opportunity broadly and if we do that the jobs will follow, the investment, the economic multiplier will become a reality,” he added.

Regarding the upcoming visit of Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese to Beijing and his meeting with president Xi Jinping, Dutton said, “We want to see the trading relationship (with China) grow and prosper as prime minister Albanese points out, as I pointed out when I was defence minister, we may be in the most precarious period since the second World War in our part of the world.”

The Australian opposition leader observed that India has its own experience on the land border, the Philippines has its own experience, while the Americans have spoken about some of the issues in the South China sea that they’ve faced in recent weeks.

(With PTI inputs)

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