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Epaper Wednesday, July 06, 2022

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Close ties with Australia key to stability: Rajnath

June 22, 2022 04:40 PM

New Delhi: Describing Australia as a "close and trusted partner", Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said the close partnership between the two countries is an important factor for stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

 

Rajnath Singh and Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles held a bilateral meeting and reviewed their military cooperation activities.

 

"Had excellent deliberations with Marles... We reviewed the full range of defence and strategic cooperation between both the countries and paved way for deepening it further," Rajnath Singh tweeted.

 

"Australia is a close and trusted partner of India. The bilateral defence cooperation between India and Australia is an important pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Our close partnership is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region," he added.

 

The Ministers 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, the Defence Ministry said.

 

"A warm welcome and excellent first meeting with Rajnath Singh, instrumental in advancing defence ties. We discussed our defence partnership and our shared ambition to ensure a secure, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific," Marles wrote on Twitter.

 

The two Ministers reviewed the existing defence cooperation activities which have been increasing despite challenges of Covid-19 pandemic and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation, the Indian Defence Ministry said.

 

They 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.

 

Both Ministers committed to give fillip to the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation, which will meet in Australia later this year.

 

This JWG is a crucial mechanism for boosting ties between defence industries.

 

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 militaries.

 

Both sides agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases.

 

They welcomed the plan to commence the landmark General Rawat Young Officer Exchange Programme in the latter half of 2022, which was announced during the virtual summit meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries on March 21.

 

They looked forward to India’s participation in Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour exercise in October.

 

Earlier in the day, the Defence Minister of Australia visited the National War Memorial and paid homage to the war heroes by laying a wreath at the monument.

 

Marles is on a visit to India from June 20-23.

 

On June 21, he visited Goa which included a tour of Goa Shipyard Ltd and a display of India's growing prowess in indigenous drone development and autonomous vehicle technology.

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