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Gillard's India visit more than successful: Oz media

Gillard, during her meeting with Manmohan Singh, announced to launch negotiations for a civil nuclear pact.

Press Trust of India  |  Melbourne 

The just-concluded India visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard was today hailed by Australian analysts and media as "more than successful" despite some apprehensions here over the country's decision to sell uranium to the Asian giant.

Gillard, during her meeting with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh yesterday in New Delhi, announced to launch negotiations for a civil nuclear pact.

The two leaders also agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, apart from inking four pacts.

While Gillard's three-day maiden visit that ended last night is being seen as a major plank in her administration's foreign policy platform, some analysts say that the ties with India needed more focus and that Australia must make sure that India adopts the best safety standards in handling uranium.

According to Rory Medcalf, director of Security Programme at the Lowy Institute, said Gillard's visit has been "more than successful and that it has add new levels of trust and mutual respect to the relationship".

"It is clear that each country now respect the other as a strategic partner in their shared Indo-Pacific region. And the prime minister's declaration has now given guidance to the two militaries to exercise more together including at sea," said Medcalf.

Christopher Kremmer of Australia India Institute said Gillard's trip was "extremely significant" from various aspects.

"At domestic level it marks a return to sort of policy issues... And regional dimension is it marks what will be seen as Gillard's major foreign policy achievement of her Prime Ministership in her first term," he was quoted as saying by ABC News.  

Commenting on the negotiations over nuclear safeguard deal which the two sides announced to begin, Kremmer said India in the past has been able to avoid some of the major nuclear disaster like in Japan and other countries but being a nuclear weapon state, safeguards were absolutely important.

"The process of negotiations which the Prime Minister will announce is I think going to tell us a lot about the degree of political will in New Delhi to better relations with Australia," Kremmer said.

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First Published: Thu, October 18 2012. 19:02 IST