Emphasising the importance attached by Canberra to New Delhi, visiting Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles has said that “India is central to Australia ‘s worldview”.
He further said that “there never has been a moment in our two countries’ perspective history where we have been more strategically aligned “.
The visit of the Australian minister comes within a month after the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese-led government took charge. PM Modi and PM Albanese had met on the sidelines of the Quad summit in Tokyo recently.
Pointing out the “fantastic” discussions held in Delhi in the last two days, Marles said that the new government places “importance to India”.
The minister began his India visit from Goa where he took a sortie over the Arabian Sea on the Indian Navy’s P8i and later held talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi.
Briefing a group of reporters, he said, “India and Australia share values. We are democracies, we have rule of law applicable within our countries, and we are seeking to build and respect a global rules-based order that is fundamentally important.” He added that both countries have “geographical linkage” via the Indian Ocean.
Worries over an aggressive China topped the agenda even as most questions at the briefing were on Beijing’s actions in the region.
Marles highlighted that while “China is our largest trading partner” it is also the “largest security anxiety and same for India”, saying that both sides have been “comparing notes” on the issue.
He explained, “China is seeking to shape the world around it in a way we haven’t seen before. In seeking to shape the world around it, we are experiencing more assertive Chinese behaviour. We talk a lot about the South China Sea…we have seen at LAC, what occurred…We stand in solidarity with India.”
China has been aggressive against India at the Line of Actual Control. In 2020, the Chinese forces attacked Indian forces at Galwan valley in Eastern Ladakh that led to the death of 20 Indian troops.
China initially did not accept any causality, but later accepted that four of its soldiers died, a figure that is contested as the toll could be much higher.
The minister also lauded the role of the Indian diaspora saying that the Indian-Australian community “which is a fastest growing community” is changing the “face of Australia much for the better, bringing a sense of energy”.
Bringing cricket in context, he said, “Indian-Australian community represents the best long-term prospects of continuing to win test matches against India.”
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