In a first high-level visit from Australia under the newly formed Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister & Defence Minister Richard Marles is visiting India. In an official statement issued by the Australian government during the visit from June 20-23, the minister will meet with his Indian counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The focus of talks will be on the Indo-Pacific and regional issues as well as deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries under the new administration in Australia.
Talking about his visit to India, the Australian minister highlighted Defence Minister Singh’s role in advancing the defence ties between the two countries and that he was looking forward to working with him to further enhance the defence aspect of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
It has been less than a month since the new government has taken over in Australia and this will be the first bilateral meeting between the two defence ministers.
According to the official statement, Deputy Prime Minister Marles also said ahead of this visit that the government in his country is focused on revitalizing Australia’s engagement with its partners across the Indo-Pacific.
Adding, “Australia stands ready to work closer with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific”.
As the world faces changes in the geostrategic order, the rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure.
His agenda in New Delhi includes:
A meeting with national security and defence policy makers and other personnel as well as a meeting with external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar.
Also, Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022, which is Defence’s flagship engagement activity in the Indo-Pacific is returning to India and assumes significance as the country is celebrating 75 years of Independence.
Importance of the visit:
Despite the new administration in Australia, the visit of the Deputy Prime Minister & Defence minister is being seen as a continuation of strong ties between the two countries which are also members of the QUAD.
India and Australia
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that the leaders of India and Australia had their first meeting on the sidelines of the QUAD leaders’ summit in Tokyo in May. In his first meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
The Australian Defence minister has been to Singapore for the Shangri-La Dialogue where he had announced that he was set to visit India and take forward the defence component of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
India-Australian Defence Cooperation
There has been an increase in the defence engagements between the two countries and they both are now part of various multilateral exercises including with Japan, India, and the US.
Recently, the two countries undertook a maritime surveillance initiative in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). In this drill according to the Indian Navy, there was a P-8A Poseidon aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force which was deployed in India.
And, earlier this year, for coordinated maritime patrols in northern Australia, for the first time an Indian P-8I aircraft was deployed in Darwin.