Sat, 25 Jun 2022

New Delhi [India], June 21 (ANI): Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles arrived in India on Monday to hold a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh to strengthen defence and security cooperation between both the countries.

"Arrived in India - a top-tier partner close friend to Australia. I look forward to advancing our ongoing defence engagement as Comprehensive Strategic Partners and reiterate our commitment for closer cooperation in the IndoPacific," Marles tweeted.

His visit marks the first high-level visit from Australia after newly-elected prime minister Anthony Albanese took office on May 23.

During his visit from June 20-23, the Australian Defence Minister will hold his first bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.

"Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners. I am committed to strengthening Australia's defence and security cooperation with India," said Marles. "I am looking forward to meeting with my counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and holding our first bilateral Defence Ministers' Meeting," he added.

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 our 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 said. "Australia stands ready to work closely with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific".

During the visit, Deputy Prime Minister Marles will also meet External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and engage national security and defence policymakers and personnel.

Earlier, the Australian PM Albanese had said that the relationship with India is very important and ties between the two countries have never been closer.

"Our relationship with India is a very important one and it was a great honour to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi."PM Modi congratulated Prime Minister Albanese on his election victory. Both leaders reviewed the multi-faceted cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including trade and investment, defence manufacturing, renewable energy, green hydrogen, education, science and technology, agricultural research, sports, and people-to-people ties.

Both Prime Ministers affirmed their desire to continue the positive momentum in the bilateral relationship. Bilateral discussions with PM Modi focused on Australia and India's full strategic and economic agenda, including clean energy technology. (ANI)

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