NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday held bilateral talks with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles and reviewed defence partnership between the two countries and the shared ambition to ensure a secure, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific.
“A warm welcome and excellent first meeting with @DefenceMinIndia @rajnathsingh, instrumental in advancing #defence ties. We discussed our defence partnership & our shared ambition to ensure a secure, prosperous & resilient #IndoPacific,” the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Marles tweeted. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment towards implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership based on mutual trust and understanding, common interests and shared values, of democracy and rule of law. They also welcomed the growing diversity and frequency of defence exercises and exchanges between the two countries and undertook to build upon operational engagements through the India-Australia Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.
Addressing the first bilateral Defence Ministers’ meeting with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, Rajnath Singh said, “India and Australia share democratic values, having common visions for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
He further said that relations between India and Australia were elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2020 during the Prime Minister-level virtual summit meeting.
Defence Minister said that the close defence and security cooperation is an important factor of stability in Indo Pacific region. “Australia is a key partner in India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean initiative,” Rajnath Singh added.
Both Rajnath and his Australian counterpart after the bilateral meeting announced in a statement that the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Material Cooperation will meet in Australia later this year.
The Ministers discussed further opportunities for industrial cooperation between India and Australia to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces. Both sides also agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases.
In the meeting, they welcomed the plan to commence the landmark General Rawat Young Officer Exchange Programme in the latter half of 2022. The Ministers also reviewed strategic challenges and the regional security situation and reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo Pacific region.
Earlier in the day, the Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Australia visited the National War Memorial and paid homage to the war heroes by laying a wreath at the monument. He was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour before the bilateral meeting with Rahnath Singh Singh.
Marles, who is on a four-day visit to India, met External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday and discussed the complete range of comprehensive strategic partnerships, including a shared commitment to building a stronger and resilient Indo-Pacific.
Marles arrived in India on Monday, which marks the first high-level visit from Australia after newly-elected prime minister Anthony Albanese took office on May 23.
“Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners. I am committed to strengthening Australia’s defence and security cooperation with India,” said Marles.
Marles stated that Rajnath Singh has been instrumental in advancing India-Australia defence ties and he looks forward to working with him to enhance the defence pillar of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
The minister also noted that India is one of Australia’s closest security partners and the Government is focused on revitalising Australia’s historically deep engagement with its partners across the Indo-Pacific.
“The rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure, as we face shifts in the geostrategic order,” he said.
“Australia stands ready to work closely with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific”, the minister said. (ANI)