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Australia vows to apply 'full force of law' against attackers

October 13, 2009 22:03 IST

Australia on Tuesday promised to apply "full force of law" against those responsible for attacks on Indians in the country as External Affairs Minister S M Krishna raised the issue of their safety with his counterpart Stephen Smith.

Krishna "sensitised" Smith about the concerns here over safety and security of Indians and underlined that measures initiated by the Australian government needed to be "effective" enough to ensure that attacks do not take place.

The issue came up during talks between Krishna and Smith under the sixth India-Australia Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue under which the two sides discussed ways to enhance ties in various sectors, particularly trade, energy and science and technology.

Smith noted that his government had taken a slew of measures to ensure the safety of 2.5 lakh Indians and was committed to "zero tolerance" approach on it, ministry of external affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

A series of attacks had been carried out against Indians, particularly students, in Australia over the last few months with many of them being racist in nature.

Smith said "people who had committed offences against Indian nationals would face the full force of the law," a joint statement issued after the talks said.

Krishna appreciated the assurances given by Australia at the highest level about ensuring safety of Indians and stressed the need for doing more.

"For us, even one attack is too many. We will like to see no attack taking place," the MEA spokesman said, adding both the sides are sensitive to this aspect.

Giving details of the talks, he said the two leaders also discussed the steps needed to regulate agents as some of them have been found to be misleading the students.

Krishna emphasised that students should get what they have been promised, Prakash said.

The Australian foreign minister told Krishna that his government had introduced a legislation that requires all international education providers to re-register by the end of 2010 against strengthened criteria.

Smith said further steps are being taken to prevent the attacks.

Prakash said Krishna and Smith also talked about the decision of the two countries to conduct a feasibility study for a free trade agreement.

This, the joint statement said, was an indication of the great potential for growth in trade and investment between the two countries.

Trade between the two countries has seen a substantial jump over the last six years as it touched 19 billion Australian dollars last year compared to mere 3.6 billion Australian dollars in 2002-03.
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