India on Saturday requested Australian government to look into the difficulties that Indian students are facing due to the travel restrictions put in place by the country in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue was taken up during inaugural ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Australian counterparts Marise Payne, Peter Dutton.

Following the event, Jaishankar said in a press meet, “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.”

“I think their (students’) frustrations, their feelings are completely understandable. Many of them would like to be at the institutions that they are already studying or want to study. So we discussed it in some detail today. Minister Payne shared with me what is Australia’s thinking about when students will be able to come,” he said.

The external affairs minister said, apart from Australia, the India government has taken up the issue with other countries like the US and Canada.

“So I do want the students of the country and the parents of the students to know that it is something we take as very high priority and take up very vigorously with our foreign partners,” he said.

Meanwhile, noting that she understands the issue faced by the Indian students and their families,  Payne said, “The COVID-19 restrictions have impacted travel to and from Australia, not just for students, but for Australians themselves and even for ministers.”

“We (ministers) are required to comply with the same sort of quarantine restrictions and health requirements as all incoming travellers as you would expect. So our approach in Australia has been based on research and modelling commissioned by the government from the eminent Doherty institute and that gives us a four-phase pathway in terms of our response to COVID-19 and our progression through and out of the restrictions that have been in place,” Payne said.

She said, “Our country is on the way to vaccinating Australians to a level which will give Australia the confidence to begin the sort of reopening that will enable students to return in phase three and then in phase four, a much more opened environment for international travel.”

“There is shared desire on both sides to see that travel resume between our countries as soon as it is safe to do so. I look forward to being one of the people at the airport to welcome the first arrivals of Indian students coming back to Australia,” she said.

 

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