Ahead of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s visit next month, India and Australia moved closer to the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) on Monday as Foreign and Defence secretaries from both sides met in New Delhi.
The Indian Express has learnt that Morrison is visiting India from January 13 to 16, and will travel to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru during his visit. He will address the Raisina Dialogue during the visit.
The two sides are working hard on negotiating the LSA, which will allow the countries to use each other’s military bases for logistical support. This will be one of the key items on the agenda during Morrison’s visit, and they would want to conclude the agreement in time for the Australian PM’s visit next month.
On Monday, the two sides carried out a comprehensive review of their strategic engagement and the regional security scenario during the defence and foreign secretarial-level talks.
The Defence Ministry said the two sides deliberated on prevailing regional security concerns and explored ways for cooperation in field of defence industry and technology.
The Indian delegation was led by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, while the Australian side was headed by Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty and Foreign Secretary Frances Adamson.
“The two sides welcomed the recent progress made in deepening bilateral, political, economic, security and defence cooperation. They discussed recent regional and global developments. They also exchanged views on achieving their shared objective of peace, prosperity and progress in the Indo-Pacific region,” a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
“The two sides emphasised the need for enhanced collaboration to counter the threat of terrorism and violent extremism through increased information sharing,” the MEA stated.
The 2+2 meeting provided opportunities for the two sides to review the status of their bilateral relationship in the context of emerging scenarios, it stated.
The Australian delegation had meetings with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Deputy NSA Pankaj Saran, and MEA’s Secretary (East) Vijay Thakur Singh.
“Issues related to bilateral defence engagements, areas to enhance cooperation in the field of defence industry and defence technology as well as the prevailing regional security concerns were discussed,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Sources said both sides also deliberated on the evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region and resolved to work closely for regional peace, prosperity and stability.
China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region, triggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond.