India, Australia Deepen Defense, Trade Ties Amid China Tensions
(Bloomberg) -- India and Australia agreed to deepen maritime defense cooperation and strengthen trade ties amid widening differences with China.
India invited Australia to jointly develop and produce defense equipment and the two nations plan to expand cooperation in military information and logistics, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh told reporters on Saturday. Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton are in New Delhi for a bilateral meeting with their Indian counterparts.
Australia and India are partners in the Quad grouping along with the U.S. and Japan. The two countries have sought to strengthen ties at a time of rising maritime tensions in Asia and India’s continuing border standoff with neighbor China, which also has strained trade and bilateral relations with Australia.
“We are meeting at a very crucial time when, along with a pandemic we have a geo-political environment which is in rapid flux,” India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said in a statement. “We must, bilaterally and with other like-minded partners, respond adequately to safeguard our national interests as well as ensure a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.”
The two sides also discussed developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban retook control as the U.S. and its allies including Australia withdrew forces after more than two decades. India is concerned about terror infiltration and instability at its western borders.
Australia, which participated in the Malabar naval exercises organized by India, invited New Delhi to participate in the Talisman Sabre military training activity with Australian forces, Dutton said.
Payne said there were also discussions on trade, climate, Myanmar and challenges in the east China and South China seas.
The prime ministers of India and Australia will meet in the U.S. later this month to review and advance strategic partnerships between the two nations, according to the statement released after the talks.
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