Conflict & Justice

Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister, pushes for closer military ties with India


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard makes answers a question from the press as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks on during her ceremonial reception at the Indian presidential palace Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 17, 2012 in Delhi, India.


Daniel Berehulak

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard is pressing for closer military ties with India and raised the prospect of full joint naval exercises.

According to the Fairfax media, Gillard said during a visit to New Delhi that the countries had common security interests, including in the protection of maritime routes.

Speaking told a business lunch that:

''In time this could include more regular and combined talks at ministerial level, and stronger co-operation between our defence forces, including full naval exercises."

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Australia has been "dogged by years of mediocre relations with India, a country it desperately craves a deeper relationship with." 

Indians became enraged over a spate of violent attacks on compatriots studying down under in 2009, one of which left an Indian student dead.

Gillard, who has been making headlines over her campaign to stamp out misogyny "in modern Australia," had billed the trip to India as her most important foreign engagement of the year.

More from GlobalPost: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard misogyny speech rewrites dictionary

She traveled to India via Afghanistan, making a brief and secretive stopover to express thanks to and support for the Australian troops fighting with coalition forces there, Radio Australia reported

According to Fairfax, Gillard's state visit was ostensibly to deepen economic ties with India, whose burgeoning middle class represents a potentially lucrative market for Australian goods and services. 

Australia has massive reserves of LPG and coal to offer Indian industry, the CS Monitor noted.

Gillard also hoped to pave the way for the sale of uranium to India, the ABC reported, pointing out that India is a nuclear super power and nonsignatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia has an estimated 23 percent of the world's known uranium reserves.

She was formally met by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also met with Sonia Gandhi, the powerful Congress Party president, at her residence.