Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison cancels India visit due to bushfires

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday called off his visit to India due to the devastating bushfire crisis in his country.

News of the visit being called off came after Morrison and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi held a telephone conversation on Friday.

Massive fires ripped parts of Australia’s south-east for weeks with fire fighters and volunteers struggling to bring them under control.

The fires have killed at least 20 people and stranded holidaymakers.

Morrison was scheduled to visit India from 13-16 January.

Earlier on Friday, Morrison during a press conference in Bairnsdale in Victoria said that he was “inclined not to proceed with that visit (to India)”.

A statement from Modi’s office said the two prime ministers had a telephonic conversation earlier on Friday during which the Indian prime minister “conveyed his heartfelt condolences” for the damage to life and property in Australia due to severe and prolonged bushfires.

Morrison was a key guest at this year’s Raisina Dialogue — an annual event modelled on Singapore’s Shangrila Dialogue and hosted by the Indian foreign ministry and the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, a think tank, which attracts security and strategic experts from all parts of the world.

Last month, Morrison had attracted public ire when he was reported to be holidaying in Hawaii when the bush fires started ravaging the countryside. He had to cut short his holiday and return home.

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