Wed, 07 Jun 2023

Sydney [Australia], May 24 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Wednesday said that the defence strategic partnership between India and Australia has very much all the elements on the nature of the security cooperation between the two countries.

During a special briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Australia, the Foreign Secretary said, "If you look at the nature of India, and Australia's defence and security cooperation, you would find it has very much all the elements that are there in the defence strategic partnership. At the political level, under the leadership and guidance of the two Prime Ministers (PM Modi and his counterpart Anthony Albanese), there is the 22 defence and political security dialogue which is led by the two ministers. We have a very regular set of both bilateral and plurilateral exercises. Malabar of course is one of them, and as you know this year's Malabar exercise is being hosted by Australia."This comes amid China's assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. The dialogue between PM Modi and his Australian counterpart Albanese is aimed at ramping up the overall defence and strategic cooperation between the two countries, including in the Indo-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Kwatra said that India's development cooperation with the Pacific doesn't burden countries with debt as six Pacific countries are at a high risk of debt distress in part due to government spending to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The World Bank report said fiscal consolidation was needed in Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu because these countries lack domestic debt markets and access to international capital markets.

Kwatra, during the presser also highlighted the regular set of bilateral and plurilateral exercises taking place between India and Australia.

The navies of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) members will take part in Malabar 2023 exercises in Australia in August. This will be the fourth time that all four nations have participated in Malabar to advance the collective planning, integration and employment of advanced warfare tactics between participating nations.

Last year, Japan hosted Australia, India, and the US in Naval Exercise Malabar.

Responding to the media queries on defence cooperation between the two nations, the Foreign Secretary said, "We also do cooperation and exercises that focus on the interoperability of the two defence forces...naturally it helps us not only just better understand each other but helps us bring together our capacities and share them in a manner that we are better aware of the challenges that are out there in this particular space."Kwatra said that co-production, co-design, and co-research are something which has always been an ongoing area of discussion between the two countries.

Speaking about the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the FS said that the focus of discussion with regard to Russia Ukraine conflict was its impact on economic dimensions"The focus of the discussion with regard to the Russia-Ukraine conflict was on the impact of the conflict on various economic dimensions, particularly on developing countries. The challenges particularly relating to food security, the derivative inflationary pressures and the uncertainty relating to fuel were discussed," said Kwatra.

In an exclusive interview with 'The Australian' newspaper, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he wanted to elevate relations with Australia to the "next level," which would entail deeper defence ties to support the creation of an "open and free" Indo-Pacific.

He said that both nations have progressed significantly in the areas of defence, and security. investment, education, water, climate change and renewable energy, sports, science, health, and culture, among others.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Sydney on Wednesday for bilateral discussions that deepened the friendship between the two nations.

The meeting between the two leaders is built on the outcomes from the Australia-India Annual Leaders' Summit in March and reinforced their commitment to an open, prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific. (ANI)

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