Page last updated at 10:21 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:21 UK

India calls off Australia events

Indian students rally against racism in Sydney on June 7, 2009
Indian students have rallied against racism in Melbourne and Sydney

India's tourism minister has called off a visit to Australia following attacks on Indian students in the country.

Kumari Selja told reporters that she was putting off next month's official trip in view of the "prevailing atmosphere" in Australia.

There have been several recent attacks on Indians in Australia, which the government denies are racist.

Police in Australia say the crimes are "opportunistic", with Indian students seen as "soft targets".

India's tourism ministry had planned events in Australian cities next month to woo tourists to India.

Ms Selja said the events were being put off for the moment.

"I am not going to Australia for the tourism promotional event scheduled in July," she said.

"The prevailing atmosphere is not conducive for such promotional events and the ministry will work out a new schedule after the situation improves."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken up the issue of the attacks with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd.

Mr Singh has said he will talk to the Australian government to take "stock of the situation and provide adequate security for Indian students".

The issue has attracted prominent media coverage in India - prompting the Indian government to convey its concern in high-level meetings with Australian officials.

Earlier one of India's leading film stars, Amitabh Bachchan, turned down an honorary degree from Queensland University of Technology, saying he could not accept it in the current circumstances.

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