Morrison and Modi talked on bilateral relations between India and Australia in a virtual meeting on March 21

Prime minister Scott Morrison held a virtual meeting with Prime Minster Narendra Modi on March 21, 2022. He wished Mr. Modi a joyful Holi which was celebrated on Friday. The virtual meeting was to drive the two countries’ bilateral cooperation to new heights.

Mr. Morrison said,Our meeting today is, of course, set against the very distressing backdrop of the war in Europe, which must never happen in our own region, and I very much want to thank you for the partnership that we have. While we are obviously distressed at the terrible situation in Europe, our focus, of course, is always very much on what is occurring in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that those events could never occur here.

He said, “Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure, and I think our Quad Leaders’ call recently, which gave us the opportunity to discuss Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, but it also gave us the opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of that terrible event for our own region in the Indo-Pacific and the coercion and the issues that we face here. The tragic loss of life underlies the importance, of course, of holding Russia to account. But cooperation between like-minded liberal democracies is key to an open and inclusive and resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and I welcome your leadership within the Quad to keeping us focused on those important issues.”

About the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, he said, “We’ve made great progress in defence, maritime cooperation, science, technology, clean energy as well, which is something I know that Australia can work together closely with India.”

He added, “And I’ll be delighted today to announce some more initiatives that build on that foundation towards our post-pandemic world. Science, technology, energy and especially critical minerals and rare earths, and we’ll redouble our efforts, as I said, on our interim Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement to unlock new opportunities and benefits for both our economies. It will bring us closer to a full agreement as soon as I hope we can achieve that.”

Mr Modi expressed condolences on the loss of lives and property in recent floods in Queensland and NSW and said, “During our last Virtual Summit, we elevated our relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and I’m pleased that today we are establishing an Annual Summit mechanism between our two countries. This will give us a framework for regularly reviewing relations. It will give us a structured framework for that. 

In the last few years we have made significant progress in our relations. We have very close cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, defence and security, education and innovation, science and technology. In all of these areas we have very close cooperation. There are many other sectors as well in which we have practical cooperation between us. For example, critical minerals, water management, new and renewable energy and technology, COVID-19 related research, and our cooperation has been moving forward at a fast pace in all these areas.”

Mr Modi further said, “I welcome the announcement of the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technologies in Bangalore. It is essential that we have better cooperation between us in the areas of cyber and critical and emerging technologies. As countries that share similar values, it is our responsibility to adopt appropriate global standards for these emerging technologies. 

“We have made significant progress in our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, CECA, in a very short time, and we have made great progress and I am very sure that we will reach an agreement very soon on the remaining issues, as well. The quick conclusion of CECA will definitely give a boost to our economic [inaudible] and economic security. 

There is also good cooperation between us in the Quad framework. Our cooperation under the Quad demonstrates our commitment towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The success of Quad is essential for regional and global stability.”

Mr. Modi congratulated Prime Minister Morrison on the Cricket World Cup win by the Australian Women Cricket team and also expressed gratitude for the initiative to return ancient Indian artefacts back to India. He said, “These and the artefacts that you have sent back, these include statues and paintings that are hundreds of years old and that have been illegally taken out of various Indian states, including Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”

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