Need to have balance of power in Indo-Pacific region: Oz envoy

By: | Published: January 23, 2016 2:40 AM

Describing its relationship with India and China as a "complicated dance", Australian envoy Patrick Suckling today stressed on the need to have a "balance of power" in the Indo-Pacific region.

Describing its relationship with India and China as a “complicated dance”, Australian envoy Patrick Suckling today stressed on the need to have a “balance of power” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Suckling called the region, which marks the confluence of Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, a strategic domain of “maximum priority” for Australia where he said a lot of “realist” foreign policy was at play.

The outgoing High Commissioner said that it was imperative that Australia works with India to develop multilateral institutional “architecture” along the lines of the European Union in the region.

When asked about Australia’s ties with India and China, he said, “It’s a complicated dance. But for us, it should not be seen as a binary choice. We should be able to manage both relationships. We should be able to work with those complex elements.”

“Yes there are strategic issues between India and China. But you have to work relationships on their merits. In terms of China, it is our largest trade partner and we work as hard as we can,” Suckling said.

He was addressing students at an event, organised by the Australia India Institute, at Lady Shri Ram College for Women here. The college has a student exchange programme with Melbourne-based La Trobe University.

Suckling, who took charge as High Commissioner to India in 2013, said that the ties between the two countries that suffered from a “stop-start” syndrome in the past, “has never been better”.

He identified areas of energy, mining, skills & education, geo-strategic interests as a few of the working domains between the two countries.

Suckling said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited Australian mining companies to invest in India in order to modernise India’s mining sector and also in the areas of skills and education.

“We have significantly improved intelligence relationship and military cooperation also. All sorts of dialogues have proliferated. People to people contact is also building a very strong fabric. People are driving the relationship forward,” he said.

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