Stronger India-Australia partnership good for regional stability: PM Albanese
New Delhi: A stronger India-Australia partnership is good for regional stability, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday, ahead of his four-day visit to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from March 8 to 11.
The announcement on Albanese’s visit, the first to India by an Australian prime minister since 2017, was made simultaneously by New Delhi and Canberra.
The Australian readout said Albanese will join Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the fourth cricket Test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy in Ahmedabad.
It said Albanese’s visit to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi will further deepen Australia’s strategic, economic and people-to-people ties with India, a “close friend and partner” of Canberra.
“A stronger India-Australia partnership is good for the stability of our region. It also means more opportunities and more trade and investment, strengthening our economies and directly benefiting our people,” the Australian prime minister said.
Albanese will be accompanied by Minister for Trade Don Farrell, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King, senior officials and a high-level business delegation.
“This will be my first visit to India as prime minister and I look forward to reinforcing the strong bond between our two countries,” Albanese said.
“Our relationship with India is strong but it can be stronger. It is underpinned by our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which underscores a joint commitment to working together to enhance our defence, economic, and technological interests,” he said.
The Australian statement said Albanese and Modi will discuss cooperation in areas of trade and investment, renewable energy, technology and defence and security.
“As we look to the future, India will continue to be an important partner and close friend to Australia,” Albanese said.
In a tweet, Albanese said he and Prime Minister Modi will work to strengthen security cooperation and deepen economic, sporting and educational ties.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the Australian prime minister will arrive in Ahmedabad on March 8 on the day of Holi, and visit Mumbai on March 9 before arriving in New Delhi later in the day.
The Australian prime minister will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 10, it said.
Following this, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese will hold the annual summit to discuss areas of cooperation under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, besides regional and global issues of mutual interest.
“Prime Minister Albanese’s visit is expected to provide further momentum to the comprehensive strategic partnership,” the MEA said in a statement.
In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of the overall defence cooperation.
In August last year, four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets and two C-17 heavy-lift aircraft of the Indian Air Force joined a 17-nation air combat exercise in Australia.
Over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, the US and the UK participated in the exercise in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Australia is set to host the Malabar naval exercise later this year. It will involve the navies of India, Australia, Japan and the US.