Melbourne:Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will visit India this month to hold discussions on expanding bilateral trade and investment links and will also open a new consulate office in Mumbai.
The foreign minister will arrive on a four-day visit on November 15 to meet government and business leaders in New Delhi and Mumbai, according to an official statement.
“I am pleased to be the first minister of this government to visit India, an important strategic partner for Australia,” Bishop said.
“I will be following up my recent discussions with Foreign Minister (Salman) Khurshid in Perth last month, where we explored options for deepening trade and investment links,” she said.
India is Australia’s fifth-largest export market and a major source of foreign investment.
It is Australia’s largest source of skilled migrants and second-largest source of international students.
The foreign minister would also formally open the offices of Australian Consulate General in Mumbai.
The India visit has been scheduled after Bishop attends this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka.
She has confirmed her participation for CHOGM stating that it was better to engage rather than “isolate” the country over claims of human rights violations.
“I hope that Sri Lanka will use the opportunity of hosting CHOGM to underline its commitment to freedom, human rights and post-conflict reconciliation and to show the world that progress has been made in these areas” she said.
Noting that Australia, as Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, has worked hard to strengthen and reform the Commonwealth to ensure it remains an effective and modern organisation, the statement said that Bishop would also meet Sri Lankan government ministers to discuss trade and investment, human rights and cooperation on combating people smuggling.
Bishop will also meet leading members of Sri Lankan opposition parties.
Earlier in a media reports, Bishop was quoted as saying, “I have been having ongoing discussions with the Sri Lankan government and I have encouraged all member nations of the Commonwealth to attend the meeting to engage with Sri Lanka on these issues rather than isolate Sri Lanka.