New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday held the first Annual Summit talks here during which the two sides focused on maritime cooperation, defence, renewable energy, trade and education.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet said:
“Delighted to meet my friend, PM @AlboMP in Delhi. Our talks focussed on diverse subjects including maritime cooperation, defence, renewable energy, trade and education. Key agreements were also signed today which will boost people-to-people ties between India and Australia.”
The Australian PM in a tweet said the two had “excellent discussions” on strengthening relations.
“Excellent discussions about strengthening the relationship between Australia and India with Prime Minister @narendramodi today.
“India is already a key partner and good friend in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Building a stronger partnership will have real benefits for Australia, from trade to education, defence, culture and more.”
In his media statement, following the bilateral annual summit talks, PM Modi said both sides had last year decided to hold annual summit talks at the level of Prime Ministers.
Referring to PM Albanese’s arrival in Ahmedabad on March 8, and participating in the Holi celebrations as well as watching the Test match there, he said the “This celebration of colours, culture and cricket, in a way, is a perfect symbol of the enthusiasm and spirit of the friendship between India and Australia.”
He said the two sides had detailed discussions on the various aspects of mutual cooperation.
“Security cooperation is an important pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Today, we had a detailed discussion on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, and increasing mutual defence and security cooperation. In the field of defence, we have made remarkable agreements in the last few years, including logistics support for each other’s armed forces. There is also regular and useful exchange of information between our security agencies, and we discussed on further strengthening this.”
The two sides have established the General Rawat Officers Exchange Programme, which has started this month.
They also discussed mutual cooperation to develop reliable and robust global supply-chains.
“Renewable energy is an area of priority and focus for both countries, and we are working together on clean hydrogen and solar.”
He said the Trade Agreement – Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement which was implemented last year has opened up better opportunities for trade and investment between both sides. “And our teams are also working on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.”
PM Modi said people to people ties is a major pillar of India-Australia relations, and that both sides have signed a mechanism for mutual recognition of educational qualifications. Both sides are also negotiating a Mobility Agreement, which would be beneficial for students, workers, and professionals.
Referring to the large Indian diaspora, he said they comprise the second largest immigrant community in Australia. “This Indian community is making a significant contribution to the society and economy of Australia.”
Referring to the spate of recent incidents of vandalization of Hindu temples in Australia, PM Modi said: “It is a matter of regret that attacks on temples have been regularly reported in Australia over the past few weeks. It is natural that such news worries the people in India, and disturbs our mind. I have shared these feelings and concerns of ours with Prime Minister Albanese. And he has assured me that the safety of the Indian community is a special priority for him. Our teams will be in regular touch on this topic, and will cooperate as much as possible.”
He said that both leaders had agreed that the bilateral relationship is important for addressing global challenges and for global well-being.
He explained to PM Albanese, the priorities of India’s G20 Presidency and expressed his gratitude for Australia’s continued support.
Both sides also discussed their cooperation as part of the Quad.
He expressed thanks to PM Albanese for inviting him to the Quad Leaders’ Summit to be held in May this year, and added that he would be welcoming the Australian PM during the G20 Summit in India in September.
The Australian PM, in his statement, said that both sides have agreed “on an early conclusion of our ambitious Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible. And I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to finalise that this year.”
He said the “transformational deal will realise the full potential of the bilateral economic relationship, creating new employment opportunities and raising living standards for the people of both Australia and India.”
The two sides also discussed the potential presented by the India-Australia Audio Visual Co-Production Agreement that was exchanged today. “This agreement will support skilled jobs, creative exchange and the development of screen projects of cultural significance in both countries,” he added.
PM Albanese said the two leaders discussed “the increasingly uncertain global security environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India defence and security partnership to address shared challenges and work towards an open, stable and prosperous Indo Pacific. I welcome increased defence information sharing between Australia and India, including in the maritime domain.”
He announced the appointment of Tim Thomas as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the new Centre for Australia-India Relations.