Canberra: India and Australia on Tuesday agreed on a landmark framework for security cooperation across the spectrum in defence, cyber and maritime security and combating terrorism, including the threats posed by foreign fighters joining extremists groups.
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At the summit talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years, and his counterpart Tony Abbott, the two countries also decided to conclude a long-pending Free Trade pact by the end of next year and an “early closure” of the civilian nuclear deal that will facilitate uranium imports to India.
Significantly, Modi made a reference to the need for expanding security cooperation and deepening international partnerships in the region in his speech to a joint session of Australian Parliament after the talks.
“But, what we do need is to work together and with others to create environment and culture that promotes the currency of co-existence and cooperation; in which all nations, small and big, abide by international law and norms, even when they have bitter disputes.
“We should collaborate more on maintaining maritime security. We should work together on the seas and collaborate in international forums.And, we should work for a universal respect for international law and global norms,” Modi said in comments interpreted as a veiled reference to China.
Both India and Australia have reservations over China’s growing military assertions in maritime disputes with its neighbours.
The framework cooperation also came as Chinese President Xi Jinping left here for Tasmania, an island in southern Australia, where he was joined by Abbott.
In a joint statement issued at the end of Modi’s visit, the two countries committed themselves to working together to combat terrorism and transnational crimes.
The two Prime Ministers agreed that the existing Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism would be renamed to cover other transnational crimes, including on-going cooperation on illegal migration.
They noted the conclusion of a new Framework for Security Cooperation to guide closer bilateral collaboration across the security spectrum, including in defence, counter-terrorism, cyber policy, disarmament and non-proliferation and maritime security.
The framework demonstrates the unshakeable resolve of the two countries in combating and defeating terrorism, including the threat posed by foreign fighters joining extremist groups.
Noting that terrorism has become a major threat for all, Modi suggested a comprehensive global strategy and a resolve to isolate “those who harbour terrorists”.
After the summit talks at the Prime Minister’s office, just two months after Abbott’s maiden visit to India, the two countries signed five agreements on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, tourism, and Arts and Culture.
“This is a natural partnership, arising from our shared values and interests, and our strategic maritime locations,”
Modi said at a joint press conference with Abbott. “Security and defence are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership – for advancing regional peace and stability, and combating terrorism and trans-national crimes,” he said.
The security framework, finalised hours before the talks, lays out an extensive “action plan” including annual prime ministerial summits and maritime military exercises, besides cooperation in counter-terrorism, border control and close consultations on regional and international institutions.
Modi said the two sides also “agreed on seeking early closure on the civil nuclear agreement, which will give Australia a chance to participate in one of the most secure and safe nuclear energy programme in the world.”
India is open for business and keen to forge stronger business relations with resource-rich Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday and invited Australian business leaders to cooperate in developing green technology, LNG, gas and tourism sectors.
Modi, who held a roundtable with top Australian CEOs here, discussed prospects for bilateral cooperation specially in the field of education, services, energy, banking and information technology and tourism.
Modi, during the hour-long roundtable hosted by Victoria’s Governor Alex Chernov at Government house, said India was open for business and was also keen to forge stronger business relations with Australia.
Noting that the new government has identified several areas of cooperation, Modi said there was a huge potential for developing educational ties especially at school level.
“Victoria has taken a good initiative of tying up with India. We have Youth. I would like to focus on two main area – one is research and the other is education,” Modi said.
As Victoria was leading in the field of research, a collaboration in that area could be looked at, he said.
“We just launched our ‘Make in India’ initiative and this presents opportunities in our country,” he said, adding that issues of concerns for those keen to invest in India would be looked at in the next budget.
He invited Australian businessmen to collaborate with India in the field of green technology, LNG, gas and tourism sector.
Modi said that the government was keen to build cruise tourism.
“We discussed various issues, but the area which I would like to focus is tourism sector where I find several opportunities and possibilities,” Modi said adding Monday’s announcement about visa on arrival facility for Australian tourists would also benefit business community too.
“I extend an invitation to look at this sector too,” Modi said, noting that India’s long coastline provides huge opportunities for developing the cruise sector.
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