Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Home India India, Australia resolve to deepen maritime security cooperation | India

India, Australia resolve to deepen maritime security cooperation | India

New Delhi: Australia and India on Friday vowed to strengthen their defence and security partnership to address the shared challenges and work towards an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, a region that has witnessed growing Chinese military muscle-flexing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese carried out a detailed discussion on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region at the first annual India-Australia Summit.

After the talks, Modi and Albanese also said that the two sides are on course to firm up a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) as well as a migration and mobility pact that is expected to benefit students and professionals.

“I welcome significant and ambitious progress under the defence and security pillar of our relationship,” Albanese said in his media statement.

“Prime Minister Modi and I discussed the increasingly uncertain global security environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India defence and security partnership to address shared challenges and work towards an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he said.

In his media statement, Modi described security cooperation as an important pillar of the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Today, we had a detailed discussion on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, and increasing mutual defence and security cooperation. In the field of defence, we have made remarkable agreements in the last few years, including logistics support for each other’s armed forces,” Modi said.

“There is also a regular and useful exchange of information between our security agencies, and we discussed on further strengthening this,” he said.

An Australian readout said the two leaders agreed to strengthen the defence and security partnership between the two sides in support of both nations’ shared ambition for an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

It said the two leaders welcomed Australia hosting of exercise Malabar this year for the first time.

At a media briefing, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Modi encouraged Albanese to avail the opportunities in the defence manufacturing sector under India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

“The leaders also appreciated the considerable progress that has taken place in the field of defence and security cooperation. In this context Prime Minister Modi encouraged the Prime Minister of Australia to avail of the full range of opportunities that are available in India deriving out of Make in India and Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) programme for defence manufacturing,” he said.

Albanese said he was proud of the deep and vibrant ties between Australia and India.

“My visit has strengthened the already close relationship that Australia enjoys with India, a key partner and good friend in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“Building a stronger partnership with India will deliver tangible benefits for Australia in trade and investment, education, renewable energy, defence and security, and culture,” he added.

Asked at a media briefing for Australian journalists on his visit to India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikrant that carries Russian MiG fighter jets, and New Delhi’s ties with Moscow, Albanese said India is a sovereign nation and it develops its relationships with other nations as it considers fit.

“What’s important is how we deal, as a sovereign nation, with friends in our neighbourhood. And India is a friend of Australia. We have an increasingly important relationship which goes to our economic ties, our cultural ties, but also our ties through exercises like the Malabar exercises that will take place later this year,” he said.

“As part of the announcements as well, we’ve had the participation of Australian defence personnel here in India, and exchange the other way around as well,” he said.

“That builds on the people-to-people relations that we have with India. India is an important democracy. India stands up for democracy. And I think that the relationship is a very positive one,” the Australian PM added.

To a separate question on Canberra yet to make an announcement yet on the AUKUS submarine project and China calling on Australia, the US and Britain to ‘end the Cold War mentality’ in the backdrop of the project, Albanese said the focus is to invest in capabilities.

In the question, he was also asked if India is a top-tier security partner to Australia, what tier is China.

“What I say is that we are investing in capability, as we should, but we’re also investing in relationships, as we are. It is not a contradictory position,” he said.

“It’s a consistent position. We need to ensure that Australia’s defence assets are the best they can be and that we build our capability. At the same time, we need to build relationships,” Albanese said.

“That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing that here in India. We’re doing that throughout the Indo-Pacific. We’ve done that as well, improved our relationship with China, in recent times as well,” he added.

The AUKUS is a trilateral security arrangement between Australia, the UK and the United States, and it was announced in September 2021.

Under the pact, the US and the UK will assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.