NEW DELHI, Nov 24: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said in this complicated world, it is the trust between like-minded partners such as India and Australia that is helping in efforts to secure a free, open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region along with a rules-based international order.
In his virtual address at the sixth edition of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue (AILD), Jaishankar said a driving force of the relationship is the convergence in understanding of, and approach to, the geo-strategic environment, particularly in the common Indo-Pacific region.
The AILD has quite aptly used the phrase ‘Bridges of Bharosa (trust)’ as one of its themes, he noted.
“In this complicated world, it is the bharosa or trust between like-minded partners such as India and Australia, along with others, that is helping us in our efforts to secure a free, open, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region along with a rules-based international order,” Jaishankar said.
His remarks come amid China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
As strong democracies and dynamic economies of the Indo-Pacific, India and Australia can make a difference through cooperation on a practical, progressive and sustainable agenda, he said, adding that it makes them a force for global good.
Jaishankar said India and Australia share a deep friendship and this year has turned out to be a defining one for our ‘dosti’.
“We have witnessed many firsts: the First Annual Leaders Summit, two visits to India by Australia’s Prime Minister, which is a first, an entry into force of our Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), record high bilateral trade, the establishment of a Little India in Sydney, new Consulates General in Bengaluru and Brisbane, more flight connections, Australian university campuses in India, recognition of educational qualifications, mobility agreements, and dare I say, seven meetings between our foreign ministers in 2023,” he said.
It is also particularly reassuring to see the strong bipartisan support that India-Australia relations enjoy in both the countries, Jaishankar said.
“That conviction and continuity among the political leadership, backed by an equally strong popular support will surely make this 21st century partnership succeed,” he said.
Jaishankar said that a wide array of bilateral frameworks such as Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue, 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers meeting, Trade Ministers Commission, Education and Skills Council, CEOs Forum, Renewable Energy Partnership and several subject-specific working groups, are features of the two countries’ wide-ranging Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“Our engagements extend from sea to space, covering all possible areas such as defence and security, cyber and critical technology, trade and economic, science and technology and innovations, education and people to people ties,” Jaishankar said.
“Even our bonds of cricket have strengthened further, though not always to India’s advantage. It was fantastic to see so many Australian women cricketers take part, some even captain teams, in the first-ever and hugely-successful Women’s IPL this year,” he said.
Jaishankar said the AILD has established itself as a key Track 1.5 engagement between the two countries, bringing together many friends, thinkers and advocates of the India-Australia partnership.
The themes chosen this year are contemporary, relevant and outcome-oriented, he said.
“As it should be in time of so much flux and realignment. There are so many challenges and opportunities that India and Australia are addressing jointly. Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, or CSP, was announced in June 2020. In such a short time frame, we have achieved not only a major rise in our level and frequency of engagement, but also in the scope, scale and pace of our ambition,” Jaishankar said.
The theme ‘Skill for Success’ is also apt as India’s skilled workforce can contribute to Australia’s needs and shortages, he said.
“Simply put, the many complementarities between us make a compelling case for so much more that the two of us can do together. There is far more potential for actual integration of our economies and businesses and for creating new supply chains. How to materialize all this, is the subject of your discussions and deliberations,” the external affairs minister said.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also virtually addressed the 6th edition of the Australia-India Leadership Dialogue (AILD). (PTI)