Australian PM receives Guard of Honour onboard INS Vikrant

New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday received a Guard of Honour onboard India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, off the Mumbai coast. He announced that Australia will this year host the Malabar exercises for the first time, and that India will also for the first time participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercise.

In tweets, he said that India is a top tier security partner for Australia.

“The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity. And we are working together to ensure the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous.

“While on board the @IN_R11Vikrant in Mumbai today I met with incredible service personnel from the Indian Navy who have undertaken exercises with Australia.

“I was pleased to formally announce Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time later this year, bringing together the @Australian_Navy , @IndiannavyMedia, @USNavy and @jmsdf_pao_eng (Japanese navy).”

In a statement, the Australian Prime Minister said he was honoured to be on board the newly-commissioned, Indian-designed and manufactured INS Vikrant at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi.

“My visit reflects my government’s commitment to place India at the heart of Australia’s approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond,” he said.

“While here, I have had the great pleasure of meeting with the talented and highly professional men and women of India’s Navy.

“It made me reflect that strong defence relationships are forged over time and by many.

But arguably, what lifts defence relationships to new levels is the resolve and foresight of those who see the relationship not only for what it is, but what it could be.

“Prime Minister Modi is one such person.

“I’d like to thank him today – not only for his kind invitation for me to visit this landmark capability, but for his dedication in driving forward our defence and security partnership.

“A partnership that is of increasing strategic importance as we navigate the challenges of our region together.

“For Australia, India is a top tier security partner. The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity.

“And there has never been a point in both of our country’s histories where we’ve had such a strong strategic alignment.

“We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific for our trade and economic wellbeing.

“And we share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous” – in comments that allude to China and its increasing footprint in the Indian Ocean Region.

“In a major step forward in our relationship, India and Australia undertook Maritime Patrol Aircraft deployments to each other’s territories for the first time.

“In November alone we conducted increasingly complex and sophisticated exercises in Indo-Pacific Endeavour and Exercise Austrahind.

“This was capped off by Exercise Malabar – where we bolstered our military interoperability with India, alongside close partners Japan and the United States.

“More important than these statistics is the sheer complexity and high-end nature of our military engagements, which is unprecedented.”

He said that the inaugural Australia-India General Rawat Defence Officer Exchange Program is taking place in India.

“This pioneering exchange program, created by Prime Minister Modi, will ensure our defence personnel develop the familiarity and trust that underpins a close and long-lasting relationship.”

“I am pleased to announce formally, aboard the magnificent INS Vikrant, that later this year Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time and India will – also for the first time – participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercise,” he said.

“It will be a great privilege to welcome India’s Navy to Australia in August and I thank them again for hosting me here today,” he added.

MALABAR is an annual maritime exercise that enhances planning, training, and employment of advanced warfare tactics between the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Indian Navy (IN), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and U.S. Navy which demonstrates the commitment between like-minded nations to upholding a rules-based maritime order in the Indo-Pacific.

UNI

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