Gillard disappointed Singh not attending Commonwealth meet

Melbourne: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is disappointed over her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh`s decision to pull out from next month`s Commonwealth meeting in Perth, though she is upbeat about the growing ties between the two countries.

Gillard said she understood Singh`s decision but was nevertheless disappointed he would not be part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOG) meeting being held from October 28 to 30.

Vice President Hamid Ansari is expected to represent India at the summit of the 53-nation grouping.

"Very disappointed that Prime Minister won`t be here for Commonwealth meeting. But I understand his decision. But we are looking forward taking to good partnership and making it even stronger," Gillard told PTI on the sidelines of a University of Melbourne`s AsiaLink conference.

"India and Australia are in a strategic partnership. We are good friends. We have strong people to people links growing economically, certainly at leader to leader level…

We stay in good touch," she said.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Gillard announced that Australia will conduct a white paper review to study the impact of the sweeping economic and strategic changes taking place in Asia, particularly in countries like India and China.

The `Australia in the Asian Century` white paper will review the opportunities and implications the growing clout of Asia will have on Australia, Gillard said.

She said the rebalancing of global wealth and power that is taking place in the region will "define our future".

}