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Australian PM Scott Morrison Cancels Upcoming Visit to India to Deal with Bushfire Crisis: Sources

File photo of Australian PM Scott Morrison.

File photo of Australian PM Scott Morrison.

Asked by reporters earlier if it was appropriate to leave Australia given the situation, Morrison had said he was "inclined not to proceed" with the visit from January 13-16.

New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called off his upcoming four-day visit to India from January 13 due to a situation arising out of the bush fires crisis, PTI quoted diplomatic sources as saying on Friday.

Morrison was scheduled to hold extensive bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the visit, who had invited him to visit India from January 13-16.

Morrison was also scheduled to deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue, the flagship annual lecture series organised by the Ministry of External Affairs. Besides Delhi, he also planned to visit Mumbai and Bengaluru.

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called off his visit to India due to the serious situation arising out of bush fires in several parts of Australia," said a diplomatic source.

Bush fires have ripped through the states of New South Wales and Victoria, killing at least 20 people and destroying nearly 500 homes. About 4,000 people, including nearly 3,000 tourists, were stranded in Victoria's Mallacoota region since they were forced to take shelter on the foreshore as the fire approached on New Year's eve.

Modi on Friday had a telephonic conversation with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and expressed heartfelt condolences on behalf of all Indians on the damage to life and property due to the bush fires there.

He also offered India's "unstinted support" to Australia and its people, "who are bravely facing this unprecedented natural calamity", according to a statement by the External Affairs Ministry.

Expressing his satisfaction at the progress in bilateral relations in recent years, Modi reiterated India's commitment to strengthen its strategic partnership with Australia.

He stated that to this end, he looked forward to welcoming Morrison in India on a state visit at a mutually convenient time later in the year, the statement said.

Morrison earlier had expressed his inclination to cancel the trip in order to deal with the bushfire crisis. Asked by reporters if it was appropriate to leave Australia given the situation, Morrison said he was "inclined not to proceed" with the visit.

Morrison was also due to visit Japan from January 16 to 17.