Ansari, Gillard meeting called off

Perth: A scheduled meeting between Vice President Hamid Ansari and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was called off today, as the latter had to attend to “domestic exigencies” like the grounding of entire Qantas airline.

The request for calling off the bilateral meeting was made by Gillard when she met Ansari in a “pull aside” at the Retreat session of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that concluded here today.

“The Vice President understood the situation perfectly and agreed to call off the meeting,” Sujatha Singh, Indian High Commissioner to Australia told reporters here. She said the Vice President had interacted with Gillard on several occasions during the past three days, including at the Retreat session and a dinner hosted by the Australian Prime Minister for the leaders of the Commonwealth.

“Indo-Australian relations are on a very even keel and there are not many issues to discuss,” Singh said. Australian national carrier Qantas has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft two days back following an industrial dispute. In another incident that has left the nation shocked, three Australian soldiers were killed and seven others injured in Afghanistan yesterday.