Australian PM Calls Off India Visit Due To Bushfires Back Home
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called off his four-day visit to India from Jan. 13 due to devastating bushfires in several parts of his country, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
Morrison was scheduled to hold extensive bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit.
Earlier, Modi had a telephone conversation with Morrison during which he conveyed his heartfelt condolences on behalf of all Indians on the damage to life and property in Australia due to the severe and prolonged bushfires.
He also offered India's unstinted support to Australia and the Australian people, who are bravely facing this unprecedented natural calamity, an External Affairs Ministry statement said.
The Australian Prime Minister was also scheduled to deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue, the flagship annual lecture series organised by the Ministry of External Affairs.
Besides Delhi, Morrison also planned to visit Mumbai and Bengaluru.
"Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called off his visit to India due to the serious situation arising out of bush fires in several parts of Australia," a diplomatic source told PTI.
Bush fires have ripped through the states of New South Wales and Victoria, killing at least 20 people and destroying nearly 500 homes.
About 4,000 people, including nearly 3,000 tourists, were stranded in Victoria's Mallacoota region since they were forced to take shelter on the foreshore as the fire approached on New Year's eve.
During their conversation, Modi also expressed satisfaction at the progress in bilateral relations in recent years and reiterated India's commitment to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia.
He also said that he looks forward to welcoming the Australian prime minister in India on a state visit at a mutually convenient time later in the year.
Modi conveyed his best wishes to Morrison and the people of Australia for the rest of the year 2020.