Sat, 03 Jun 2023

Sydney [Australia], May 23 (ANI): Describing the relationship between India and Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the high degree of mutual trust between the two nations has naturally translated into greater cooperation over time, especially on defence and security matters.

In an exclusive interview with 'The Australian' newspaper, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he wants to elevate relations with Australia to the "next level," which would entail deeper defence ties to support the creation of an "open and free" Indo-Pacific.

"The Indo-Pacific faces a number of challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, terrorism, security of the sea lanes of communication, piracy, illegal fishing among others," PM Modi told Cameron Stewart in an exclusive interview.

"India believes that these challenges can be addressed only through shared efforts," he said, adding that he wanted India and Australia to press forward to realise the "true potential" of closer defence and security ties.

Prime Minister Modi reached Sydney on Monday on the third and last leg of his six-day, three nations trip.

Calling his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese a "dear friend," Prime Minister Modi said that the bilateral relationship between New Delhi and Canberra was being nourished by the fast-growing Indian diaspora residing there.

"Our people-to-people contacts remain a strong pillar of our partnership. The Indian diaspora in Australia has increased over the past years," PM Modi said.

He said that the rapidly expanding Indian diaspora, which acts as a "living bridge" between the two countries and is connected by a love for cricket, is fostering the bilateral connection."We have progressed significantly in the areas of defence, security. investment, education, water, climate change and renewable energy, sports, science, health, culture, among others" Prime Minister Modi told 'The Australian' newspaper.

Speaking to Cameron Stewart of 'The Australian' on India's stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, PM Modi further said, "An advantage of being good friends is that we can discuss freely and appreciate each other's viewpoint. Australia understands India's position and it does not impact our bilateral relationship."Upon his arrival in Sydney on Monday (May 22), PM Modi was received by Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell and other officials.

During his visit two-day official visit to Sydney, PM Modi will meet his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese and hold a bilateral meeting, in addition to business executives and the 750,000-strong Indian diaspora.

At their bilateral meeting, the leaders will discuss trade and investment, including efforts to boost trade between the two countries through a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement and work to strengthen people-to-people links, renewable energy, and defence and security cooperation, said the official statement released by the Australian government.

Members of the Indian diaspora also welcomed PM Modi as they chanted slogans of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and "Vande Mataram".

Meanwhile, Australian PM Albanese said he looks forward to visiting India in September in New Delhi for the G20 Leaders' Summit, the world's premier forum for economic cooperation.

Before emplaning for Australia, PM Modi visited Papua New Guinea where he co-chaired the third summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) jointly with his counterpart James Marape.

Earlier, he visited Japan where he attended the summit of the G7 advanced economies and held bilateral meetings with several world leaders. The Quad Summit was also held on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima. (ANI)

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