India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Australian Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Defence Richard Marles held a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on June 22, 2022.
The two ministers reviewed the existing defence cooperation activities between the two nations which have been increasing despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation.
Further, the Ministers reviewed the defence and security pillars of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Mr Singh tweeted: “Had excellent deliberations with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Mr. Richard Marles in New Delhi today. We reviewed the full range of defence & strategic cooperation between both the countries and paved way for deepening it further.”
In a media statement, the defence ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership based on mutual trust and understanding, common interests and shared values, of democracy and rule of law.
Both ministers welcomed “the growing diversity and frequency of defence exercises and exchanges between the two countries and undertook to build upon operational engagements through the India-Australia Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.”
Mr Marles in an op-ed published in the Indian Express said:
“Australia’s interests don’t just align with India’s, they are inextricably entwined. Expect this relationship to grow & prosper, our cooperation to deepen.”
Defence ministers have also committed to the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation which is a crucial mechanism for boosting ties between defence industries.
The Ministers discussed opportunities for industrial cooperation between India and Australia to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces. Both sides agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases.
Both Ministers welcomed the plan to commence the landmark General Rawat Young Officer Exchange Programme in the latter half of 2022, which was announced during the virtual summit meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries on March 21, 2022.
Mr Marles visited Goa to see India’s indigenous drone development and autonomous vehicle technology.
The two ministers reviewed strategic challenges and the regional security situation and reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo Pacific region.
Dr Ashutosh Misra, CEO of Institute for Australia India Engagement, observed:
“The best thing about our a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is that our strategic and bilateral interests are mutually complementary and cannot be seen in isolation. Progress in one drives the other too.”
Mr Marles looked forward to India’s participation in the Indo Pacific Endeavour exercise in October 2022 organised by Australia.
The Defence Minister of Australia also visited the National War Memorial and paid homage to the war heroes by laying a wreath at the monument.
Mr Marles is on an official visit to India from June 20-23, 2022.