Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held bilateral discussions with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles in Delhi on Wednesday. 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,” a joint statement said, Trend reports citing The Indian Express.
“They looked forward to India’s participation in Australia’s Indo Pacific Endeavour exercise in October 2022,” it said.
Marles is on a four-day visit to India to strengthen the bilateral defence ties between the two countries.
The two leaders reviewed the existing defence cooperation activities, “which have been increasing despite challenges of Covid-19 pandemic and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation”, the statement said.
India and Australia are two of the four members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, along with the US and Japan. The four nations are also regular participants in the Malabar war-gaming naval exercise.
Singh and Marles “reviewed the defence and security pillars of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”, and “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”, the statement said.
They 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”.
Further, the statement said that the two ministers “committed to give fillip to the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation, which will meet in Australia later this year”.
The JWG is a “crucial mechanism for boosting ties between defence industries,” according to the joint statement.
They also discussed opportunities for industrial cooperation between India and Australia to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces, and also agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases.