India on Saturday asked Australia to relax travel restrictions for students who have not been able to attend university due to the coronavirus crisis, PTI reported.
Presently, about 60,000 Indians are studying in Australia, AFP reported, quoting the country’s Foreign Minister Marisa Payne.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took up the matter with Payne during the “2+2” ministerial meeting between the two countries in Delhi. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton also participated in the dialogue.
“I specifically took up with Minister Payne the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to go to Australia, as well as the Indian origin community that is resident there,” Jaishankar told media after the meeting.
The minister added that many Indian students wished to be at the institutes where they were enrolled or wanted to study.
He said: “I think their frustrations, their feelings are completely understandable. So we discussed it in some detail today. Minister Payne shared with me what Australia is thinking about when students will be able to come.”
Jaishankar said that resolving Indian students’ difficulties due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions was the government’s priority.
His Australian counterpart said she understood that the students wanted to experience life on campus. “I am one of the most enthusiastic proponents of welcoming back our much-loved Indian students back to the Australian education system as soon as it is possible for us,” Payne said, according to AFP.
Payne added that Australia required a higher level of vaccination to be able to gradually ease curbs. “I look forward to being one of the people at the airport to welcome the first arrivals of Indian students coming back,” she added.
Australia is battling a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases. On Sunday, the state of New South Wales alone registered a record 1,262 new infections.