Tue, 30 May 2023

New Delhi [India], June 22 (ANI): Australian Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles received a Guard of Honour in the presence of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and laid a wreath at National War Memorial in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Rajnath Singh will hold bilateral talks with Marles in New Delhi today to review the defence cooperation between the two countries and explore new initiatives to further strengthen bilateral engagements.

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.

"Wonderful to meet India's External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar- a great friend of Australia. A productive discussion across the gamut of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including shared commitment to build together a strongerresilient IndoPacific," the Australian Defence Minister tweeted.

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. "I am looking forward to meeting with my counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and holding our first bilateral Defence Ministers' Meeting," Marles said in a statement.

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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