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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Australia condemns Delhi bombings, cricket tour on track
SYDNEY (IANS) -- Australia has condemned the serial bombings in New Delhi and pledged to go ahead with its four-Test cricket tour of India.
‘These attacks on a democratic, tolerant, open society are repugnant. Australia hopes the perpetrators are brought to justice quickly,’ Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Monday.
The five blasts Saturday at busy markets and Delhi’s central business district killed 21 people and left 100 injured.
‘There can be no justification for these reprehensible acts. The attacks were clearly intended to inflict maximum casualties on innocent civilians. During my visit to India, I recommitted Australia to continued cooperation with India in our common fight against terrorism and extremism,’ Smith said.
The two countries have agreed to strengthen intelligence cooperation, including on counter-terrorism issues. They have noted the need for practical cooperation in areas such as intelligence, law enforcement, border security and counter-terrorist financing and money laundering.
During his first visit to India last week, Smith had conveyed the Australian government’s condolences for other recent terrorist attacks on India, including the bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul in July.
The opposition Liberal Party also condemned ‘the calculated and shocking bombings’ in New Delhi.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesperson Andrew Robb told IANS: ‘Unfortunately, members of our police and security forces have obtained invaluable experience in dealing with the aftermath of bombings from Bali. I hope the Australian government can put this experience to good use and will offer any and all assistance to India at this time. India is a vibrant and tolerant democracy and any attack must be denounced in the strongest possible terms.’
Meanwhile, Australia’s cricket tour of India is on track.
‘Our position is that the tour is going ahead unless we are otherwise persuaded. Our advice is there are some concerns and to exercise caution, but currently they do not compromise the tour. Our plan is to depart on Sep 21 subject to our advice,’ Cricket Australia’s general manager of public affairs, Peter Young, told Cricinfo.
However, Australians planning on traveling to India have been advised to exercise a ‘high degree of caution’ because of the high risk of terrorist activity by militant groups in all major cities across India.
The government’s travel advisory says ‘do not travel’ to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and ‘reconsider your need to travel’ to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur.