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AUSTRALIA has delivered a blunt message to India that it is selling education, not visas, even as the Rudd government deploys its most senior ministers to patch up relations damaged over a series of Indian student assaults.

Trade Minister Simon Crean, whose visit to India this week overlaps that of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, outlined to the Confederation of Indian Industry yesterday federal government measures to crack down on shonky education and training providers in Australia.

But he said the crackdown could be successful only if similar action were taken in India to close down shonky education and immigration agents running scams to secure permanent Australian residency through student visas.

“Let’s be clear, we are offering a quality education in a safe environment,” Mr Crean said yesterday. “The quality of our education is what we are promoting, not the visa attached to it.

“For this to succeed, we also need the co-operation of the Indian government. The fact that politicians in both countries have been forced to focus on the issue improves the odds of coming up with a better system.”

Ms Gillard is understood to have delivered a similar message during meetings with Indian Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal and, late on Tuesday night, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, where greater engagement between the two countries on defence, energy and climate change were also discussed.

Mr Crean denied Australia’s international education industry needed to be remarketed in India, despite the fact it is widely seen — and in some areas promoted — as a pathway to permanent residency.

But he conceded better co-operation between Australian government agencies was also needed to help stem student visa abuses.

What the student issue has done is shed a light on the importance of interaction between Austrade, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and those that market our services in the Department of Education, Employment and Work Relations in the protection of our brand,” he said yesterday.

In just eight days, India will have hosted three of Australia’s most senior politicians, Mr Crean, Ms Gillard and Wayne Swan.

By the end of the year, a total of eight Australian ministers will have graced Indian soil.

The ministerial offensive is aimed at patching bilateral relations, damaged by a recent series of attacks on Indian students in Australia, as well as building trade relations with the emerging Asian superpower.

Mr Crean, who is in India for a two-day meeting of G20 trade ministers ahead of the next Doha round of WTO talks in Pittsburgh later this month, said Australia’s trade relationship with India had historically been “underdone”.

The ministerial visits — which will culminate in a tour by Kevin Rudd later this year — were designed to correct that.

“We understand the fundamental importance of India to our future, just as we do China and the rest of Asia. This is going to be the fastest-growing region in the world for the next couple of decades, it is the place to be,” he said. “Australia fortunately positioned itself for that a couple of decades ago but we have to renew the effort.

“Obviously, if there is a hiccup in the relationship, as there has been here over student safety, of course we have to address it. Visits here are an important part of that.”

Canberra hopes that a successful culmination of the Doha talks — aimed at reducing international trade barriers — will help accelerate free trade agreement negotiations between Australia and India, still at the feasibility stage.

It was also concentrating on building trade ties in infrastructure and energy security areas, with particular focus on investments in gas and coal.

Mr Crean denied that Australia’s refusal to sell uranium to India — a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — would hurt the progress of the talks, despite Mr Singh again raising the issue during his meeting with Ms Gillard.

Source  :  The Australian

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Socceroos qualify for 2010 World Cup

AUSTRALIA have booked a ticket to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa with a scoreless draw against a determined Qatar at the Al Sadd Club in Doha.

Needing only a point to officially seal qualification, the Socceroos got the job done against a youthful Qatar side to ensure back-to-back World Cup appearances for the first time.

The home side proved tougher opposition than they had in three previous losses, but Australia could feel unlucky not to have won after Tim Cahill struck the post with a spectacular bicycle kick in the first half and Qatari keeper Qasem Burhan made several brilliant saves in the second.                                      world cup 2010
 
The win means the Socceroos cannot finish any lower than second in Asia’s Group A, with the top two teams earning qualification.

They joined Asian rivals Japan as the first two sides to qualify for next year’s tournament, after the Blue Samurai sealed their spot with a 1-0 win over Uzbekistan earlier on Saturday.

Hosts South Africa are exempt from qualifying.

Both sides made a tentative start in front of a small but vocal  Doha crowd, with the Socceroos content to keep possession in the hot and humid conditions.

Qatar’s star striker Sebastian Soria Quintana looked dangerous early on and had the first real chance of the half after getting in behind Chris Coyne, but he flashed his shot across the face of goal.

The Socceroos muscled their way back into the game before Cahill was denied one of the great goals by the woodwork in the 27th minute.

Josh Kennedy, who impressed up front, flicked on a Mark Bresciano free kick with his head, before Cahill found himself in space, controlled with his chest and drilled an overhead kick into the right upright.

Harry Kewell became increasingly menacing after switching to the right win, going close to scoring himself before creating another move which led to Vince Grella firing a volley just over the bar in the 33rd minute.

Qatar had two chances late in the half with Cahill blocking Quintana’s effort and Mark Schwarzer punching away an ambitions long shot from Ahmed Faris.

Australia stepped up their game early in the second half with a flash of chances within a 10-minute period.

The first came to an unlikely source in defender Chris Coyne, who had his shot cleared off the line after attempting to turn in a headed Cahill effort.

The impressive Everton midfielder was again another stunner when his powerful drive was brilliantly saved in the 57th minute by Burhan.

Burhan was called into action again to tip over a Kennedy shot from out wide and once more in the 63rd minute when Kewell collected a brilliant Grella ball, cut inside Ibrahim Majed and forced another great save by Burhan with his right foot.

Continued to threaten and fired across the face of goal in the 80th and although they didn’t get the goal they perhaps deserved, it meant little when the whistle blew to ensure another historic World Cup appearance.

The Socceroos now have matches against Bahrain and Japan at home to celebrate.

Source www.news.com.au

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