Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles is in New Delhi to boost defence ties with India. It is the first high-level visit from the country after the new Australian PM Anthony Albanese took charge last month. On the three-day tour from 20-23 June, the new Defence Minister will hold talks with his counterpart Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
“Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners. I am committed to strengthening Australia’s defence and security cooperation with India,” Deputy Prime Minister Marles said in a statement issued by the Australian Defence Ministry.
“I am looking forward to meeting with my counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and holding our first bilateral Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
“Minister Singh has been instrumental in advancing India-Australia defence ties, and I look forward to working with him to enhance the defence pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Deputy Prime Minister Marles said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said India is one of Australia’s closest security partners and the Government is focused on revitalising Australia’s historically deep engagement with our partners across the Indo-Pacific.
“The rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure, as we face shifts in the geostrategic order,” Deputy Prime Minister Marles said.
“Australia stands ready to work closely with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific”.
During the visit, Deputy Prime Minister Marles will also meet External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and engage national security and defence policymakers and personnel.
Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022, Defence’s flagship engagement activity, returns to India this year. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Australian PM had held bilateral talks in Tokyo on the sidelines of the QUAD summit last month. After taking charge, the Australian Minister has been to Singapore for the Shangri La dialogue and later to Japan. At the Shangri La dialogue, he said “I look forward to visiting India soon to take forward the defence pillar of our comprehensive strategic partnership”.