Engagement with India

Media release

30 December 2012

Australia will boost diplomatic engagement with India in early 2013 with a new Australian High Commissioner to take office next month, and direct Ministerial talks on economic, regional and security issues in New Delhi and Mumbai from January 20-23.

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced Mr Patrick Suckling as High Commissioner to India from January 2013, replacing Mr Peter Varghese.

“Mr Suckling is an accomplished career diplomat with expertise in policy development, public diplomacy and consular service,” Senator Carr said.

“His previous postings to New Delhi and Washington and postgraduate qualifications in Hindi, will serve him well as High Commissioner.”

“All Australians would wish him well in this new role.”

Senator Carr said he would also hold talks with his Indian counterparts and with Australian business leaders in New Delhi and Mumbai from January 20-23 this year. Talks would cover economic, security and regional co-operation issues and follow Prime Minister Gillard’s visit to India in October this year.

“Our relationship with India is critical to our national interests, and remains in excellent repair,” Senator Carr said.

“India is our fourth-largest export market with two-way trade presently exceeding $18 billion a year.

“It is a key market for education services as Australia’s second-largest source of international students.

“Since 2008 there have been a record 60 Ministerial or senior official visits between our two countries, or roughly one a month for each of the last five years.

“I’ll be looking to build on this relationship at Ministerial talks in India in three weeks.”

Australia’s new High Commissioner to India, Mr Patrick Suckling is a senior career diplomat with previous service in New Delhi and Washington DC. He was adviser to Foreign Minister Downer in 2007, a senior official to APEC in 2008 and headed the International Division in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from March 2009 to May 2011. His most recent position in Canberra was head of DFAT’s Consular, Public Diplomacy and Parliamentary Affairs Division.

Mr Suckling holds a Masters degree in International Relations from Monash University, Honours degrees in Economics and English Literature and a post graduate diploma in Hindi from Sydney University.  .

In 2011-12, two-way goods and services trade between India and Australia was $18.3 bn with principal Australian exports including coal, gold, education and copper.

Australia and India engage in regular dialogues on foreign affairs and defence, regional security, and trade and economic issues, and work closely together in the G20 and the East Asia Summit.

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