“India One Of Australia’s Closest Security Partners”: Australia Deputy PM
It is the first high-level visit to India from Australia after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labor Party came to power last month defeating predecessor Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in the elections.
Islam News -New Delhi- India is one of Australia’s “closest” security partners and Canberra is keen to work closely with it for an open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said on Monday as he begins a four-day visit to New Delhi.
It is the first high-level visit to India from Australia after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labor Party came to power last month defeating predecessor Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in the parliamentary elections.
Mr Marles, who is also Australia’s defence minister, said the rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure, seen as an oblique reference to China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
During his visit from June 20 to 23, he is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
“Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners. I am committed to strengthening Australia’s defence and security cooperation with India,” Mr Marles said.
“I am looking forward to meeting with my counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and holding our first bilateral defence ministers’ meeting,” he said, according to a statement by the Australian government.
India is one of Australia’s closest security partners and his government is focused on revitalising the country’s historically deep engagement with its partners across the Indo-Pacific, he said.
“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 closer with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific,” he added.
Mr Marles said Mr Singh has been instrumental in advancing India-Australia defence ties and he was looking forward to working with him to enhance the defence pillar of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two sides.
He is also scheduled to meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and interact with national security and defence policymakers and personnel.
The ties between India and Australia have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In April, the two countries inked a trade pact to diversify bilateral trade.
In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by India in November 2020 as well as last year.