Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh held a crucial bilateral meeting in the national capital where both discussed a wide range of issues including cricket, security and naval security. Speaking at the meeting, Marles stressed that the two sides updated each other about the development with regard to the last meeting and added today’s meeting has allowed reaffirming resolve to further deepen the defence partnership. According to the statement released by the Ministry of Defence, New Delhi suggested Canberra to work collaboratively on shipbuilding and flight maintenance.
“During our earlier discussion, we were able to identify areas and initiatives where our two countries would collaborate. Today’s meeting will give us an opportunity to reaffirm our resolve to further deepen our defence partnership,” he said.
He congratulated Team India for its performance during the recently concluded Cricket World Cup and added he felt “lucky” with the result. However, he affirmed that India may lost the match but dubbed it as an expression of friendship between the two democracies.
“It’s great to be back in India again and to be here at such an auspicious time for the World Cup. I congratulate India for the way it hosted the World Cup and the way in which India has played. And we feel lucky with the result last night. But it has been just a great expression of the friendship between Australia and India,” said Marles who witnessed the historic match with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad.
- According to the statement released by the Defence Ministry, Singh and Marles reaffirmed their commitment towards further strengthening the bilateral defence relations.
- It said the ministers expressed satisfaction at the increasing military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, including joint exercises, exchanges and institutional dialogue.
- Also, the Defence Minister congratulated his counterpart on the maiden and successful conduct of the multilateral exercise ‘Malabar’ by Australia in August this year.
- The Ministry said that the two sides underscored the importance of further enhancing cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness between the two countries.
- The two sides are also in an advanced stage of discussion to conclude implementing arrangements on Hydrography Cooperation and cooperation for air-to-air refuelling, it added.
- “Minister Rajnath Singh emphasised that the forces of the two countries should also look at cooperating in niche training areas like Artificial Intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare and cyber domain. The two ministers agreed that deepening cooperation in defence industry and research would give a fillip to the already strong relationship,” it said.
Area of collaboration
The Defence Minister suggested that shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance and aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) could be the potential areas of collaboration. The two ministers also discussed cooperation for joint research in underwater technologies.
Collaboration between the defence start-ups of both countries, including that for solving challenges jointly, was discussed by the ministers. They concurred that a strong India-Australia defence partnership will augur well not just for the mutual benefit of the two countries but also for the overall security of the Indo-Pacific.
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