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India, Australia Discuss Expansion Of Defence Ties

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NEW DELHI, Nov 20: Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held talks with his Australian counterpart Richard Marles during which they concurred that a strong bilateral defence partnership will “augur well” not just for the two countries but also for the overall security of the Indo-Pacific, officials said.

The two ministers agreed that deepening cooperation in defence industry and research would “give a fillip to the already strong relationship”, according to a statement issued by the Indian defence ministry here.

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Singh suggested that shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance, and aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) could be the potential areas of collaboration.

The leaders reaffirmed the commitment towards further strengthening the defence relations between the two countries, the statement said.

Singh congratulated Marles on the maiden and successful conduct of multilateral exercise ‘Malabar’ by Australia in August this year.

Marles is also the Australian deputy Prime Minister.

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“Both ministers underscored the importance of further enhancing cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness between the two countries,” it said.

“Both the ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards further strengthening the bilateral defence relations. They expressed satisfaction at the increasing military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, including joint exercises, exchanges and institutional dialogue,” the ministry said.

The two sides are also in an advanced stage of discussion to conclude implementing arrangements on hydrography cooperation and cooperation for air-to-air refuelling, officials said.

Singh emphasised that the forces of the two countries should also look at cooperating in “niche training areas like artificial intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare and cyber domain”.

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“The two ministers also discussed cooperation for joint research in underwater technologies. Collaboration between the defence start-ups of both countries, including that for solving challenges jointly, was discussed by the ministers.

“They concurred that a strong India-Australia defence partnership will augur well not just for the mutual benefit of the two countries but also for the overall security of the Indo-Pacific,” it added.

Both Australia and India are part of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that is focused on working towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The other two members of the Quad are the US and Japan.  (PTI)

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