PM Modi discusses bilateral trade, defence with Aussie PM Morrison

PM Modi said India was committed to expanding its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison held an online summit on Thursday focussing on ways to broaden bilateral ties in a range of areas like healthcare, trade and defence.

In his opening remarks, 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 the Indo-Pacific region and the world, how we work together for global good, all these aspects need to be considered."

PM Modi said India was committed to expanding its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace.

"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 Covid-19 epidemic," he said.

It is the first time that Modi held a "bilateral" virtual summit with a foreign leader.

Relationship between the two nations was upgraded to a 'Strategic Partnership' level in 2009. Since then, both countries have expanded their cooperation in a range of key areas.

Right before joining the summit PM Modi tweeted, "Glad to be joining the first India-Australia Virtual Summit with you, PM Scott Morrison. India-Australia ties have always been close. As vibrant democracies, from Commonwealth to Cricket to even Cuisine, our people-to-people relations are strong and the future is bright!"
The Prime Minister replied to a tweet of Australian PM Scott Morrison in which the latter said that he is "looking forward to catching up" with Narendra Modi for the first ever Australia-India virtual summit.

In its White Paper on Foreign Policy in 2017, Australia recognised India as the "pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries" and a "front-rank partner of Australia".

The bilateral economic engagement too has been on an upswing in the last few years. According to official data, the trade between the two countries was around $21 billion in 2018-19.

Australia's cumulative investment in India is about $10.74 billion whereas India's total investment in Australia is $10.45 billion. Australian Super Pension Fund has invested $1 billion in India's National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

In the last few years, both countries have been focusing on expanding maritime cooperation.

India and Australia commenced their first bilateral naval exercise 'AUSINDEX' in 2015 which was focussed at deepening defence and maritime cooperation especially in the Indian Ocean. The third edition of AUSINDEX-2019 was held in the Bay of Bengal in April 2019.

Australia has been supportive of India's position on cross-border terrorism and on asking Pakistan to take meaningful action against terrorist groups operating from its soil. Australia also co-sponsored UNSC resolution to declare Azhar Masood a global terrorist.

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