India, Australia to finalize comprehensive strategic partnership deal this year

India, Australia to finalize comprehensive strategic partnership deal this year

Indian Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart Albanese discuss maritime security in Indo-Pacific region during their meeting in New Delhi

By Shuriah Niazi

NEW DELHI (AA) – India and Australia are collaborating on a comprehensive strategic partnership to strengthen economic, trade, and security relations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday.

"Our teams are working on a comprehensive economic agreement," Modi said in a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese following bilateral talks in New Delhi.

Albanese said they agreed on an early conclusion of their "ambitious" Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, which he expects to be finalized later this year.

The Indian prime minister said they also discussed maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region, as security cooperation is an important pillar in the two countries' partnership.

"There is regular and useful information exchange between our security services, and we discussed strengthening it further," he said.

"Prime Minister Modi and I discussed an increasingly uncertain global environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India defense and security partnership to address shared challenges and work toward an open, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific," Albanese said, seconding his counterpart's comments.

The Australian prime minister landed in India on Thursday for a four-day visit. He is accompanied by Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell, and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King, as well as senior officials and a high-level business delegation.

This is Albanese’s first visit to India in his current role.

Albanese said the high-level contact between the two countries has further strengthened cooperation across many sectors.

"The frequent high-level content between Australia and India has further strengthened cooperation across a range of areas, including trade and investment, climate and energy, defense and security, and between the people of our two countries," he added.

Modi also mentioned the recent increase in attacks on Hindu temples in Australia, to which Albanese responded that the safety and security of the Indian population is a "priority for them."

Answering a journalist's question regarding press freedom in India after tax officials raided and searched BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai following the broadcast of a documentary critical of Modi, Albanese responded, "Penny Wong commented on that when she was here as Foreign Minister last week."

“Australia stands up for press freedom. But India is a great democracy,” he added.

Albanese, who will return to India for the G-20 Summit in September, has also invited Modi to Australia for the Quad Leaders' Conference in May.

Meanwhile, India and Australia signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on sports and audiovisual co-production, as well as the terms of reference for the solar task force.


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