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Australian PM to visit India in January; calls India a natural partner

File photo of Australian PM Scott Morrison. Photograph:( AFP )

WION New Delhi, India Oct 04, 2019, 11.22 AM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will visit India in January 2020; his first visit to India after taking charge as the prime minister.

Addressing the Sydney town hall Scott Morrison said, "So I am honoured to accept the invitation of my friend Prime Minister Modi to visit India in January, including to deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue."

"My visit will be another step in cementing India in the top tier of Australia’s partnerships," the Australian PM added. 

Morrison will be accompanied by a high-level business delegation that will be led by Ashok Jacob, Chair of the Australia-India Council Board.

Calling India "natural partner for Australia", Morrison said, "India is a great success story of our region. A land of durable institutions and shared values."

Speaking on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Free Trade Agreement (RCEP FTA)- which is being negotiated between 16 countries which including ASEAN, India, Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea - Morrison said, "it will draw India more substantially into the Indo-Pacific economy." 

RCEP FTA, once concluded, will have a combined population of 3.5 billion and a combined GDP of $25.7 billion.

Last week, the foreign ministers of the US, Australia, India and Japan met for the first time in New York. Both Australia and India are keen on the emerging Indo-Pacific concept which is based on ASEAN centrality.

PM Modi first visited Australia in 2014 for the G20 Summit.

The Australian PM had called PM Modi on May 23 to congratulate him on his victory in 17th Lok Sabha elections. During the same conversation, PM Modi also congratulated "Prime Minister Morrison for guiding his Liberal-National Coalition Party to victory in recently concluded elections in Australia," a Ministry of External Affairs release said.