PM Modi and PM Albanese discussed steps to increase defence and security cooperation
Defence cooperation is an important pillar of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday. Addressing the media along with visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese after the first in-person India-Australia Annual Summit in New Delhi, PM Modi said they discussed increased defence and security cooperation. Their talks also focused on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, he added. Highlighting important agreements in the area of defence cooperation in recent years, Prime Minister Modi referred to the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement for armed forces from both sides. The agreement was announced during the first India-Australia Virtual Summit held in June 2020. There was a regular and useful exchange of information between security agencies between both the nations, Prime Minister Modi added. Additionally, the General Rawat Officers Exchange Programme had been launched this month itself, he pointed out. The two Prime Ministers discussed cooperation in developing strong and resilient global supply chains. According to PM Modi, renewable energy was a priority and focus area for both the countries and they were working together in the areas of clean hydrogen and solar energy. Prime Minister Modi described his Australian counterpart's visit during Holi and his presence at the 4th India-Australia Test Match in Ahmedabad as a celebration of "colours, culture, and cricket". The mechanism of the India-Australia Annual Summit was institutionalised during the Virtual Summit held in March 22. Thursday’s Annual Summit began with talks between the two Prime Ministers in a restricted format followed by delegation level talks led by them. According to the MEA, the discussions had an extensive agenda, including economy and trade, defence and security, science and technology, energy, and education. “Delegation level talks led by PMs @narendramodi and @AlboMP get underway. An extensive agenda is on the table, focusing on economy & trade, defence & security, S&T, energy, education, mobility and diaspora, as well as regional & multilateral issues," MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. REGULAR HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIONS Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese had met thrice on the sidelines of multilateral meetings last year. They met during the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo in May 2022 and the G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia in November 2022. They also had a short interaction at the State Funeral of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in September 2022. The Australian Prime Minister’s India visit comes after a series of high-level engagements and Ministerial visits between two sides in 2022 and 2023. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Australia on February 18, 2023 which was followed by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit to India from February 28 to March 3. Australian Education Minister Jason Clare was also in India from February 28 to March 3, 2023.