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Thursday, August 13, 2020

India, Australia ink landmark defence pact after Modi-Morrison online summit

"India is committed to strengthening its relations with Australia, it is not only important for our two nations but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the whole world," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the interaction.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: June 4, 2020 4:22:19 pm
India australia virtual summit, modi morrison virtual summit, india australia ties, india australia relations Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison during the virtual summit (Screengrab)

India and Australia inked a landmark agreement Thursday for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support besides firming up six more pacts to further broad base ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison held an online summit.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

“This is a perfect time to further strengthen relations between India and Australia. There are endless opportunities to strengthen our friendship, it also brings with it challenges to turn this potential into reality, how our relationship becomes a factor of stability for the region. India is committed to strengthening its relations with Australia, it is not only important for our two nations but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the whole world,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the interaction.

India has already signed similar agreements with the US, France and Singapore.

The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus pandemic. “We share an ocean & we share responsibility for that ocean as well, its health, well being & security. The relationship we are forming around those issues on our maritime domain, I think is the platform for so many other things between our countries,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

During the interaction, Morrison also referred to PM Modi’s hologram used for campaigning during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “It doesn’t surprise me, this is how (virtually) we’d continue to meet in these circumstances. You are the one who started hologram in your campaigning many years ago, maybe next time we can have a hologram of you here,” he said.

Opinion | Modi-Morrison summit can help plug a gap in India’s diplomatic tradition

Morrison also congratulated Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, for taking charge as chairman of the WHO Executive Board at its 147th session. “This is a very important time to be chairing that board & I have no doubt that India’s leadership will be critical in dealing with difficult problems globally particularly in the health area,” he said.

This is the first virtual bilateral summit India is holding with any country. Australia held one with Singapore in March. The two leaders last spoke on April 6 where they had discussed Covid-19, including facilitation and support for citizens stranded in each other’s country.

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