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India, Australia ink landmark defence pact during virtual summit

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck
Last updated on: June 04, 2020 14:54 IST
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India and Australia on Thursday inked a landmark agreement for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support besides firming up six more pacts to further broadbase ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison held an online summit.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison (on the screen) during the first India-Australia virtual summit. Photograph: PTI Photo

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

India has already signed similar agreements with the United States, France and Singapore.

 

The other pacts will provide for bilateral cooperation in areas of cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology, mining and minerals, military technology, vocational education and water resources management.

In the talks, the two sides also deliberated on a host of key issues including dealing with growing threat of terrorism, maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, reform in the World Trade Organisation and ways to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

According to a joint statement issued after the Modi-Morrison talks, both sides discussed the issue of taxation of offshore income of Indian firms through the use of the India-Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and sought early resolution of the issue.

It said both sides also decided to re-engage on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement while suitably considering earlier bilateral discussions where a mutually agreed way forward can be found.

The two countries recognised that terrorism remains a threat to peace and stability in the region and strongly condemned the menace in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.

The joint statement said both sides support a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, including by countering violent extremism, preventing radicalisation, disrupting financial support to terrorists and facilitating prosecution of those involved in acts of terror.

The two sides also called for early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

In his opening remarks, Modi also pitched for a coordinated and collaborative approach to come out of the adverse economic and social impact of the epidemic that has infected around 65 lakh people and killed 3.88 lakh globally.

He said a process of comprehensive reforms covering almost all areas has been initiated in India as his government viewed the coronavirus crisis as an "opportunity".

Referring to the virtual summit, the prime minister termed it "a new model of India-Australia partnership, a new model of conducting business". It was the first time that Modi held a "bilateral" virtual summit with a foreign leader.

The prime minister described his talks with Morrison as "an outstanding discussion", covering the entire expanse of ties between the two strategic partners.

"Our government has decided to view this crisis as an opportunity. In India, a process of comprehensive reforms has been initiated in almost all areas. It will soon see results at the ground level," the prime minister said.
Modi also conveyed his appreciation to Morrison for taking care of the Indian community in Australia, especially the students during the "difficult time".

In his remarks, Morrison complemented Modi for his "constructive and very positive" role including at the G-20 role in pushing for a concerted global approach in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

Modi said he believed that it is the "perfect time and perfect opportunity" to further strengthen the relationship between India and Australia.

"We have immense possibilities to make our friendship stronger," Modi said, adding: "How our relations become a 'factor of stability' for our region and for the world, how we work together for global good, all these aspects need to be considered."

The prime minister said India was committed to expand its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace, noting that it is important not only for the two countries, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the world.

"The role of our comprehensive strategic partnership will be more important in this period of global epidemic. The world needs a coordinated and collaborative approach to get out of the economic and social side effects of this epidemic," he said.

Summit wraps up with 'Samosa-Khichdi' diplomacy; Morrison misses 'Modi hug'

After trying his hand on the crunchy samosas and delicious mango chutney, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday promised his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that he will prepare Gujarati khichdi in his kitchen before their next meeting in person.

 

The two leaders shared some lighter moments during the first-ever India-Australia virtual summit midst the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It doesn't surprise me, this is how (virtually) we'd continue to meet in these circumstances. You (PM Modi) are the one who started hologram in your campaigning many years ago, maybe next time we can have a hologram of you here," he said, recalling Modi's hologram campaign ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The virtual summit was wrapped up with 'Samosa-Khichdi' diplomacy.

"I thank you for the samosas....we had a lot of fun with it over the weekend," Morrison said, referring to him making the samosas and tweeting about it.

Morrison said he wished he could be there for what has become the famous 'Modi hug' and share his samosas with his Indian counterpart.

"Next time, it will have to be the Gujarati khichdi. I will try that in the kitchen before next time we meet in person," he said.

Responding to Morrison, Prime Minister Modi said, "Your samosas have become a topic of discussion in India. As you spoke about khichdi, the Gujarati's will be very happy to know this. There are so many Gujaratis settled in Australia. However, khichdi is a very common cuisine that is known by different names across the country."

-- Natasha Chaku/PTI

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Roshneesh Kmaneck© Copyright 2021 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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