New Delhi : India and Australia on Saturday decided to expand their bilateral defence cooperation, with New Delhi inviting Canberra to engage India’s growing defence industry and to collaborate in co-production and co-development of defence equipment, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said here after holding the 2+2 dialogue with his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton.
“With the liberalised FDI regime in India we have invited Australian defence companies to participate in India,” Rajnath Singh said.
Peter Dutton said that Australia has invited India to participate in the Talisman Sabre exercises – a biennial, multinational military exercise led by Australia and the United States.
Singh said that on bilateral defence cooperation both sides decided to expand military engagements across services, facilitate greater defence information sharing and to work closely for mutual logistic support.
Both sides also noted the continued participation of Australia in the Malabar Exercises. Australia was invited to join the Malabar exercises, held between the navies of India, the US and Japan, last year.
“We invited Australia to engage India’s growing defence industry and to collaborate in co-production and co-development of defence equipment,” he said.
He said the 2+2 dialogue format signifies the importance of the India – Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
“India and Australia share an important partnership which is based on a shared vision of free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. As two democracies we have a common interest in peace and prosperity of the entire region,” he added.
He said during the dialogue both sides discussed various institutional frameworks for wide ranging collaboration including defence cooperation and fight against the global pandemic.
They also exchanged views on Afghanistan, on Maritime Security in the Indo-Pacific, cooperation in multilateral formats and other related topics.
“During the discussions both sides emphasised the need to ensure free flow of trade, adherence to international rules and norms and sustainable economic growth in the entire region,” he said.
Both sides agreed to continue the high level engagements to build a strong and robust partnership, Singh added.
Dutton, in his remarks, said that Saturday also marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US and “reminds us of the human cost of the barbaric act of terrorism”.
He said this is part of the reason why the relationship between Australia and India is so important.
Dutton said the discussions between the two sides have been “incredibly productive” and that the bilateral relations since the leaders summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian PM Scott Morrison in June last year. “is at a historic high”.
He said he wanted to acknowledge Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s dedication in advancing the Indo-Australian defence partnership.
“India is an increasingly significant partner, especially in the maritime domain” and both sides share unwavering commitment to ensuring rules-based international order,” he added.
With the Indo-Pacific region becoming increasingly complex and uncertain, the friendship between the two sides is “essential to ensure the region is stable”, he added.
Referring to the AUSINDEX bilateral maritime exercises, he said the navies of the two countries are currently exercising off the coast of north Australia.
He said “Singh and I agreed on several initiatives to strengthen our partnership”, and announced that India has been invited to participate in Talisman Sabre exercises.