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WikiLeaks
Press release About PlusD
 
Content
Show Headers
Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius for Reasons 1.4 (B, D) 1. (C) Summary: India-Australia relations under Prime Minister Rudd should continue to move forward on the positive path set by the Howard administration, according to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Australian High Commission and contacts in Delhi. However, while greater engagement in bilateral and multilateral agreements looks likely, a ban on uranium sales (a long standing Labor Party position), and an explicit lack of enthusiasm for quadrilateral U.S.-India-Australia-Japan dialogue has caused a stutter. Contacts here believe the GOA is keen to see the relationship move beyond the traditional pillars of &cricket, curry and the Commonwealth,8 especially in the areas of economic engagement, climate change and coordination in multilateral fora. End Summary. A Valued Friend in Howard ----- 2. (C) India-Australia relations under Prime Minister Howard ranged from a complete freeze following India,s 1998 nuclear tests to Howard claiming in 2004 that India was set to become one of Australia,s most important regional and bilateral partners. From trade (over USD$7.2 billion in 2006) to defense cooperation (including participation in the erstwhile U.S.-India naval exercise Malabar in 2007) to support for the civil-nuclear deal, relations flourished, with rivalry over who had the better cricket team and worse cricket sportsmanship being among the top irritants. Given the closeness which had developed, New Delhi was delighted to hear Kevin Rudd label India-Australia relations an "urgent priority" for his administration. No Uranium/No Quad No Problem for Delhi ----- 3. (C) However, one of the first signals the new government in Canberra sent was on January 15 when it told Special Envoy Shyam Saran that Australia would, as characterized by Indian media, &reverse8 PM Howard,s offer to sell uranium to India. (Note: More accurately, as Embassy Canberra notes, the Howard government was supportive but only indirectly. Howard said Australia would consider exporting uranium to India if it met certain conditions, including fulfilling the requirements of the 123 Agreement. End Note.) At the same time, Canberra maintained the Howard administration's non-committal position on support for an Indian exemption for civil-nuclear cooperation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, simply noting the GOA &understands how important this issue is to the United States.8 The uranium decision was widely expected, as it had been a campaign promise, and New Delhi has not interpreted the move as portending any hiccups in the relationship. Ministry of External Affairs Director (South) D. Ramamoorthy told Poloff that the offer to sell uranium was purely an initiative of PM Howard, something New Delhi had never asked for, and given the public position Rudd had taken during the campaign, the reversal was a development India was prepared for. &It does not signal any conflict, as far as we're concerned,8 Ramamoorthy said. 4. (C) Shortly after the uranium announcement, on February 5, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith sent the Indian intelligentsia a chill by announcing Australia would no longer be a part of the quadrilateral dialogue. Seen as a signal of the Mandarin-speaker Rudd,s desire to get closer to China, the move was met with worry in the Indian public. Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis associate fellow Abanti Bhattacharya described the decision as an indication of China,s &crafty policies8 to break coalitions, while one headline characterized it as &China scores over India as Australia quits strategic dialogue.8 Retired General and frequent Embassy contact Ashok Mehta assessed the announcement by saying &This is a complete U-turn. It,s a completely maverick move. They won't give us uranium and now NEW DELHI 00000501 002 OF 003 we are out of the dialogue.8 However, the MEA,s Ramamoorthy downplayed the announcement's significance. &The quad was all Australia and Japan,s doing,8 he said. &The U.S. and India just went along. We are not concerned.8 Crean Visit Signals Commitment to Relationship ----- 5. (C) Sandwiched between the two major announcements, and receiving much less attention despite probably carrying more significance, Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, concluded the first India visit by an official in the newly elected Australian government on January 20. With the exception of his trip to the Bali climate change conference, India was Crean,s first destination since taking office. Crean,s main message to the GOI was that the Rudd government is committed to pursuing a more comprehensive relationship, according to Australian High Commission Poloff Murray Harris. Economic cooperation will be a top priority, Harris reported, noting that exports to India had just surpassed those to the USA for third place on Australia,s list of trade partners, with bilateral trade growing at around thirty percent per year. (Note: Harris was likely referring to 2006 merchandise export figures. The trade balance is significantly in Australia,s favor. Embassy Canberra points out that, if services are included, the U.S. is still ahead of India as an Australian export destination. In terms of total trade, the U.S. was Australia,s third largest trade partner, while India was tenth. End note.) Crean and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath announced the start of a Free Trade Agreement study between Australia and India. Expect More Multilateral Cooperation... ----- 6. (C) Crean also emphasized that another focus of the Rudd administration will be to work more cooperatively with India in multilateral settings. Crean conveyed to both the GOI and Indian industry the high priority Australia places on bringing the WTO Doha round to a successful conclusion and his desire to cooperate with India on the agricultural subsidy issue. He reaffirmed Australia,s commitment to having India invited to become a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and criticized the Howard government for not working hard enough to secure India,s membership. Poloff Harris noted numerous other multilateral venues where Australia intended to leverage its friendship with India, listing the Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asian Summit Plus Three (EAS 3), Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), and the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean Development (APP). Additionally, with India,s blessing, Australia intends to pursue observership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 7. (C) Reinforcing the multilateral message, Smith delighted India,s foreign policy community on February 11 when he told Australia,s ABC Television that not only should the United Nations take a more central focus in international affairs, but also that the Rudd government explicitly supported a permanent UN Security Council seat for India. ...And Mil-Mil Engagement ----- 8. (C) The Rudd administration intends to continue military-to-military expansion, Harris said. Australia plans to remain in the Malabar exercises, assuming it is invited, as well as other exercises which include India, such as Milan. The Rudd government will likely also pursue more bilateral exercises, Harris stated. More Than Cricket, Curry and the Commonwealth ----- 9. (U) Harris also stressed the potential for one of the NEW DELHI 00000501 003 OF 003 fastest growing aspects of the Australia-India relations, people-to-people contact. From 2006 to 2007, India was the third largest immigrant source country for Australia, after the UK and China, with over 13,000 Indians moving Down Under. India was second only to the UK in providing skilled workers to Australia during that span, with over 15,000 Indians getting skilled worker visas. Over 40,000 Indian students studied in Australia in 2007, up 60 percent from the previous year. Referring to the oft-used phrase to describe the relationship, Harris said Australia intends to encourage greater people-to-people ties to move beyond the &cricket, curry and the Commonwealth8 stereotype. Differences Still on Climate Change ----- 10. (U) Rudd,s move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was welcomed in India, as were reports of Rudd,s call to Beijing where he was alleged to have offered to act as a bridge between the developing and the developed world in negotiations on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, Harris noted, Australia and India still have different perspectives on several issues related to the environment, and Australia does not support a per capita emissions concept India advocates. Despite the differences, Harris said that Australia has found India to be helpful on climate change issues, and intends to remain closely engaged. Comment ----- 11. (C) Comment: Uranium and the quad aside -- and as Ramamoorthy indicated, MEA is willing to put those quickly aside -- all indications are that India-Australia relations will continue to progress. In just a few short weeks, Canberra has addressed India,s concerns over top foreign policy issues such as the UNSC seat, multilateralism and climate change. Harris revealed that more attention should follow soon, as both PM Rudd and FM Smith are expected to travel to Delhi early in the administration. Still, if both sides indeed wish to move beyond cricket, curry and the Commonwealth and on to commerce, climate change and multilateral cooperation, we can expect difficult choices ahead. Post also expects that while New Delhi will be willing to let the quad concept drop for now, it will watch Rudd,s approaches to China extremely closely, assessing whether his attention to that relationship will have any zero-sum consequences for India-Australia ties. Or for India,s rivalry with China for power and influence in the region. End Comment. 12. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Canberra. WHITE

Raw content
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 000501 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2022 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ECON, SENV, AS, IN SUBJECT: NEW DELHI EXPECTS INDIA-AUSTRALIA RELATIONS TO CONTINUE TO FLOURISH UNDER RUDD REF: NEW DELHI 0322 Classified By: PolCouns Ted Osius for Reasons 1.4 (B, D) 1. (C) Summary: India-Australia relations under Prime Minister Rudd should continue to move forward on the positive path set by the Howard administration, according to the Ministry of External Affairs, the Australian High Commission and contacts in Delhi. However, while greater engagement in bilateral and multilateral agreements looks likely, a ban on uranium sales (a long standing Labor Party position), and an explicit lack of enthusiasm for quadrilateral U.S.-India-Australia-Japan dialogue has caused a stutter. Contacts here believe the GOA is keen to see the relationship move beyond the traditional pillars of &cricket, curry and the Commonwealth,8 especially in the areas of economic engagement, climate change and coordination in multilateral fora. End Summary. A Valued Friend in Howard ----- 2. (C) India-Australia relations under Prime Minister Howard ranged from a complete freeze following India,s 1998 nuclear tests to Howard claiming in 2004 that India was set to become one of Australia,s most important regional and bilateral partners. From trade (over USD$7.2 billion in 2006) to defense cooperation (including participation in the erstwhile U.S.-India naval exercise Malabar in 2007) to support for the civil-nuclear deal, relations flourished, with rivalry over who had the better cricket team and worse cricket sportsmanship being among the top irritants. Given the closeness which had developed, New Delhi was delighted to hear Kevin Rudd label India-Australia relations an "urgent priority" for his administration. No Uranium/No Quad No Problem for Delhi ----- 3. (C) However, one of the first signals the new government in Canberra sent was on January 15 when it told Special Envoy Shyam Saran that Australia would, as characterized by Indian media, &reverse8 PM Howard,s offer to sell uranium to India. (Note: More accurately, as Embassy Canberra notes, the Howard government was supportive but only indirectly. Howard said Australia would consider exporting uranium to India if it met certain conditions, including fulfilling the requirements of the 123 Agreement. End Note.) At the same time, Canberra maintained the Howard administration's non-committal position on support for an Indian exemption for civil-nuclear cooperation in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, simply noting the GOA &understands how important this issue is to the United States.8 The uranium decision was widely expected, as it had been a campaign promise, and New Delhi has not interpreted the move as portending any hiccups in the relationship. Ministry of External Affairs Director (South) D. Ramamoorthy told Poloff that the offer to sell uranium was purely an initiative of PM Howard, something New Delhi had never asked for, and given the public position Rudd had taken during the campaign, the reversal was a development India was prepared for. &It does not signal any conflict, as far as we're concerned,8 Ramamoorthy said. 4. (C) Shortly after the uranium announcement, on February 5, Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith sent the Indian intelligentsia a chill by announcing Australia would no longer be a part of the quadrilateral dialogue. Seen as a signal of the Mandarin-speaker Rudd,s desire to get closer to China, the move was met with worry in the Indian public. Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis associate fellow Abanti Bhattacharya described the decision as an indication of China,s &crafty policies8 to break coalitions, while one headline characterized it as &China scores over India as Australia quits strategic dialogue.8 Retired General and frequent Embassy contact Ashok Mehta assessed the announcement by saying &This is a complete U-turn. It,s a completely maverick move. They won't give us uranium and now NEW DELHI 00000501 002 OF 003 we are out of the dialogue.8 However, the MEA,s Ramamoorthy downplayed the announcement's significance. &The quad was all Australia and Japan,s doing,8 he said. &The U.S. and India just went along. We are not concerned.8 Crean Visit Signals Commitment to Relationship ----- 5. (C) Sandwiched between the two major announcements, and receiving much less attention despite probably carrying more significance, Australian Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, concluded the first India visit by an official in the newly elected Australian government on January 20. With the exception of his trip to the Bali climate change conference, India was Crean,s first destination since taking office. Crean,s main message to the GOI was that the Rudd government is committed to pursuing a more comprehensive relationship, according to Australian High Commission Poloff Murray Harris. Economic cooperation will be a top priority, Harris reported, noting that exports to India had just surpassed those to the USA for third place on Australia,s list of trade partners, with bilateral trade growing at around thirty percent per year. (Note: Harris was likely referring to 2006 merchandise export figures. The trade balance is significantly in Australia,s favor. Embassy Canberra points out that, if services are included, the U.S. is still ahead of India as an Australian export destination. In terms of total trade, the U.S. was Australia,s third largest trade partner, while India was tenth. End note.) Crean and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath announced the start of a Free Trade Agreement study between Australia and India. Expect More Multilateral Cooperation... ----- 6. (C) Crean also emphasized that another focus of the Rudd administration will be to work more cooperatively with India in multilateral settings. Crean conveyed to both the GOI and Indian industry the high priority Australia places on bringing the WTO Doha round to a successful conclusion and his desire to cooperate with India on the agricultural subsidy issue. He reaffirmed Australia,s commitment to having India invited to become a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and criticized the Howard government for not working hard enough to secure India,s membership. Poloff Harris noted numerous other multilateral venues where Australia intended to leverage its friendship with India, listing the Commonwealth, Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), East Asian Summit Plus Three (EAS 3), Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), and the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean Development (APP). Additionally, with India,s blessing, Australia intends to pursue observership in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). 7. (C) Reinforcing the multilateral message, Smith delighted India,s foreign policy community on February 11 when he told Australia,s ABC Television that not only should the United Nations take a more central focus in international affairs, but also that the Rudd government explicitly supported a permanent UN Security Council seat for India. ...And Mil-Mil Engagement ----- 8. (C) The Rudd administration intends to continue military-to-military expansion, Harris said. Australia plans to remain in the Malabar exercises, assuming it is invited, as well as other exercises which include India, such as Milan. The Rudd government will likely also pursue more bilateral exercises, Harris stated. More Than Cricket, Curry and the Commonwealth ----- 9. (U) Harris also stressed the potential for one of the NEW DELHI 00000501 003 OF 003 fastest growing aspects of the Australia-India relations, people-to-people contact. From 2006 to 2007, India was the third largest immigrant source country for Australia, after the UK and China, with over 13,000 Indians moving Down Under. India was second only to the UK in providing skilled workers to Australia during that span, with over 15,000 Indians getting skilled worker visas. Over 40,000 Indian students studied in Australia in 2007, up 60 percent from the previous year. Referring to the oft-used phrase to describe the relationship, Harris said Australia intends to encourage greater people-to-people ties to move beyond the &cricket, curry and the Commonwealth8 stereotype. Differences Still on Climate Change ----- 10. (U) Rudd,s move to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was welcomed in India, as were reports of Rudd,s call to Beijing where he was alleged to have offered to act as a bridge between the developing and the developed world in negotiations on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. However, Harris noted, Australia and India still have different perspectives on several issues related to the environment, and Australia does not support a per capita emissions concept India advocates. Despite the differences, Harris said that Australia has found India to be helpful on climate change issues, and intends to remain closely engaged. Comment ----- 11. (C) Comment: Uranium and the quad aside -- and as Ramamoorthy indicated, MEA is willing to put those quickly aside -- all indications are that India-Australia relations will continue to progress. In just a few short weeks, Canberra has addressed India,s concerns over top foreign policy issues such as the UNSC seat, multilateralism and climate change. Harris revealed that more attention should follow soon, as both PM Rudd and FM Smith are expected to travel to Delhi early in the administration. Still, if both sides indeed wish to move beyond cricket, curry and the Commonwealth and on to commerce, climate change and multilateral cooperation, we can expect difficult choices ahead. Post also expects that while New Delhi will be willing to let the quad concept drop for now, it will watch Rudd,s approaches to China extremely closely, assessing whether his attention to that relationship will have any zero-sum consequences for India-Australia ties. Or for India,s rivalry with China for power and influence in the region. End Comment. 12. (U) This message has been coordinated with Embassy Canberra. WHITE
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