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Australia hints at FTA with India

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The Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer (left), and the External Affairs Minister, Mr Natwar Singh, in New Delhi on Wednesday. — S. Subramanium

New Delhi , June 8

THE Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of India and Australia entering into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Addressing a press conference here the Minister felt that it was "perfectly possible" for an FTA between India and Australia some time in the future.

"I am not sure that it will happen but it could. The FTA that could go from the north of China could cover much of the Indian sub-continent, including South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. I think this is a long way from now and an ambitious vision too. But this is the vision that you need to bear in mind when you think about the economic interaction around the region and the potential for the region to have closer economic relations," Mr Downer said.

The Minister is in India for the fourth round of Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue with the External Affairs Minister, Mr K. Natwar Singh. He said Australia wanted to see India as one of the permanent members of the expanded UN Security Council (UNSC) and that Australia in-principle supported the G-4 group.

"Australia in-principle supports the G-4 group and would like to see India as one of the permanent UNSC members. The UNSC originally consisted of all the victorious powers during the World War II. But, India and Australia have also contributed towards the allied victory in the war. Times are changing and the situation now is much different from the San Francisco summit at the end of the war," he said.

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