Ex-Oz FM Downer calls for improved ties with India

November 11th, 2010 - 4:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Adelaide (Australia), Nov.11 (ANI): Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer has said his country’s ties with India need to improve; even as bilateral relations with China are the strongest in the Western world.

“Where we have succeeded with China, Australia has so far failed with that other emerging behemoth, India,” Downer said while delivering the 36th annual Essington Lewis Memorial Lecture here on Thursday night.

“It hasn’t worked for one very good reason - as the smaller country, we haven’t had enough to offer India to escape its indifference towards us,” The Age quoted Downer, as saying.

Downer, who was foreign minister from 1996 to 2007 in the Howard coalition government, said Australia needed to tap into the potential opportunities resource diplomacy offered to build relationships and to become central to global economic events.

Uranium mining and climate change were two such areas where Australia could potentially make an impact, he said.

India also had an aggressive nuclear power program, which could benefit from uranium trade, Downer said.

Australia needed to address these issues, particularly with the possibility of competition increasing from Africa, Central Asia and Latin America, as the demand and price of raw materials remained high, he added.

China, he said, needed Australia’s materials to help support its growth, while Australia was equally dependent on China for economic success.

He, however, warned that an over reliance on natural resources for prosperity may create huge risks for Australia’s future.

The annual lecture is named in honour of one of the founding fathers of the Australian resources sector, former BHP chief executive and chairman Essington Lewis. (ANI)

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