India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appeared to confirm Scott Morrison‘s planned trip to India has been cancelled.
In a statement issued hours after the Australian Prime Minister said he was “inclined” to cancel his trip to India scheduled for later this month, Mr Modi said he looked forward to welcoming Mr Morrison to India at a time to be confirmed.
“Prime Minister Modi conveyed his heartfelt condolences on behalf of all Indians and on his own behalf on the damage to life and property in Australia due to severe and prolonged bushfires,” the statement said.
“He also offered India’s unstinted support to Australia and the Australian people, who are bravely facing this unprecedented natural calamity.”
“Expressing his satisfaction at the progress in bilateral relations in recent years, Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s commitment to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia. He stated that to this end, he looked forward to welcoming the Prime Minister of Australia in India on a State Visit at the earliest mutual convenience.”
Earlier on Friday, Mr Morrison said his trip, which was aimed at bolstering Australia’s defence ties with Chinese rivals Japan and India was, was all but off.
“I’m inclined not to proceed on that visit. There are issues I need to resolve formally when working through issues of that nature. That is my inclination on that issue,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
The confirmation from India suggests Mr Morrison will also formally cancel his trip to Japan amid fierce criticism of his response to the bushfire emergency.
Mr Morrison has flagged the role of the Defence Force would become “greater and greater” in the days ahead through air evacuations, engineering support, accommodation and evacuation centres.
“We’ll be running that on a daily basis on a very close watch. And I think Australians can be confident of that being the case,” he said.