Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Australia, seeks to deepen bilateral defense ties

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SYDNEY (AP) – Narendra Modi has arrived in Sydney for his second visit to Australia as India’s prime minister and told local media he wants to strengthen bilateral defense and security ties as China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region grows. is increasing.

Modi is one of the leaders of the Quad nations to continue with his Australian visit plans after President Joe Biden pulled out last week to return to Washington to focus on debt ceiling talks. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who hosted the Group of Seven meeting last week, later also canceled his visit to Australia.

Modi is addressing the diaspora at a sold-out 20,000-seat Sydney Stadium on Tuesday. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will attend the stadium event and hold a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart on Wednesday.

Modi said in Tuesday’s edition of The Australian newspaper that he wanted to take India’s ties with Australia to the “next level”, including on defense and security to help ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region. relations are included.

“As two democracies, India and Australia have a shared interest in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. There is alignment in our strategic approach,” Modi told the newspaper.

“The high level of mutual trust between us has naturally translated into greater cooperation on defense and security matters. Our navies are participating in joint naval exercises. I am confident that there is merit in working together to realize the true potential in closer defense and security cooperation,” Modi said.

Modi last visited Australia in November 2014, just months after his government was first elected.

Australia pulled out of the original Quad security talks with India, the United States and Japan in 2008 over fears that the grouping would provoke a Chinese military build-up. Since China took that route anyway, the Quad reformed in 2017 and Australia returned to joint Quad military exercises in 2020.

With the Sydney leaders’ summit cancelled, a replacement Quad meeting was convened on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Modi arrived in Sydney on Monday night from Papua New Guinea, where he held a meeting with leaders of the Pacific Islands to discuss ways for better cooperation.

Asked whether the Australian would raise Muslim and minority rights in India with the Hindu leader, Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said he expected a “full dialogue” between Albany and Modi.

He said, ‘We have never had such a great strategic synergy with India as we do now. Both countries have invested deeply in the collective security of the Indo-Pacific region.