India urges Australia to address challenges faced by students due to travel curbs

During the inaugural two-plus-two ministerial dialogue, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday urged Australia to address the issues faced by Indian students due to the travel restrictions in the country.

EAM Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton took part in the discussions.

While addressing reporters in a press conference post the meeting, Jaishankar stated, “I specifically took up with Minister Payne the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to go to Australia as well as the Indian origin community that is resident there.”

A productive 2+2 meeting today with Australia. pic.twitter.com/wVorRj4rks

— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 11, 2021

The foreign minister stated that the government is considering the problems faced by students wishing to study abroad on a “very high priority” and is taking it up “very vigorously with our foreign partners”, including countries like US and Canada.

“I think their frustrations, their feelings are completely understandable. Many of them would like to be at the institutions that they are already studying or want to study. So we discussed it in some detail today. Minister Payne shared with me what is Australia’s thinking about when students will be able to come,” Jaishankar said.

Earlier, too, the foreign ministry had stressed its commitment towards facilitating the travel of Indian students who have secured admissions in universities abroad. Following the government’s efforts, 17 EU member states and Switzerland had lifted travel bans on Indian travellers.

Australian Foreign Minister Payne, said, “There is shared desire on both sides to see that travel resume between our countries as soon as it is safe to do so. I look forward to being one of the people at the airport to welcome the first arrivals of Indian students coming back to Australia.”

She added that Australia is conducting a vaccination drive, which will be followed by a phased reopening. In phase three, students would be able to return and in phase four, international travel would likely be open. For now, she said, “The Covid-19 restrictions have impacted travel to and from Australia, not just for students, but for Australians themselves and even for ministers.”

Australia & India are longstanding partners. In our meeting with 🇮🇳 Prime Minister @narendramodi, we discussed our nations’ shared commitment to a rules-based international order, an open, inclusive & resilient #IndoPacific & strengthening the 🇦🇺🇮🇳 economic relationship. pic.twitter.com/cuRFEM80ww

— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) September 11, 2021

Apart from collaboration on challenges posed by Covid-19, the ministers also talked about a framework for defence. The developments in Afghanistan and other threats facing the Indo-Pacific were among the key areas touched upon during the course of the discussion.

(With PTI inputs)

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