Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met Australian counterpart Scott Morrison in Washington D.C. and discussed a wide range of subjects aimed at deepening economic and people-to-people linkages between India and Australia.
Taking to Twitter, MEA wrote, “Another chapter in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia! PM @narendramodi and @ScottMorrisonMP
met today. Discussed regional and global developments as well as ongoing bilateral cooperation in areas related to Covid-19, trade, defence, clean energy & more.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said the meeting will advance India’s friendship with Australia.
The meeting between Modi and Morrison came a week after they spoke over the phone and reviewed the rapid progress in the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including through the recent ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue, and exchanged views on regional developments and the forthcoming Quad meeting.
The meeting assumes significance as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on September 11 held the ‘two-plus-two’ talks in New Delhi with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton.
First meeting after AUKUS
It was the first meeting between the prime ministers of India and Australia since the AUKUS (Australia, the UK and the US) security partnership was unveiled last week by US President Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Morrison.
The AUKUS partnership, seen as an effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, will allow the US and the UK to provide Australia with the technology to develop nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
Australia said its decision to join a security alliance with the US and the UK is aimed at developing capabilities that can contribute along with India and other countries in deterring behaviour that threatens the peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.
Not relevant to Quad
In the first reaction from India on the contentious alliance, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday said that the new security agreement among the US, the UK and Australia is neither relevant to the Quad nor will have any impact on its functioning, and they are not groupings of a similar nature.
Shringla said while the AUKUS is a security alliance among the three countries, the Quad is a plurilateral grouping with a vision for a free, open, transparent and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
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The Quad comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.
US President Biden is hosting the first in-person Quad summit at the White House on September 24 to be attended by Modi, Morrison and Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Developments in Afghanistan, the COVID-19 pandemic and ways to expand cooperation for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific are set to be the central focus of the four-nation grouping Quad.
France reacted angrily to the formation of the new AUKUS alliance as it resulted in Paris effectively losing a multi-billion dollar deal to build 12 conventional submarines for Australia. France is also upset over its exclusion from the alliance.
China has also slammed the formation of the AUKUS.
(With PTI inputs)
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