Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday held a virtual summit with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, during which he said that the cooperation between India and Australia is increasing at a rapid pace in areas of critical minerals, water management and renewable energy.
“Our collaboration reflects a commitment to free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Early conclusion of talks for Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement is the key for economic ties. In our last virtual summit, we had given our relationship the form of a comprehensive strategic partnership. I am happy we are establishing a mechanism of the annual summit between the two countries,” PM Modi added.
“This will prepare a structural system for regular review of our relations. In the past few years, our relations have seen remarkable growth. Trade and investment, defence and security, education and innvoation, science and technology — in all these sectors we have very close cooperation,” the prime minister said.
PM Modi, who on Monday inspected as many as 29 antiquities that have been repatriated to India from Australia including those on the themes of Lord Shiva and his disciples, Lord Vishnu and the Jain tradition, thanked Morrison for the same.
“I thank you for the initiative to return the Indian antiquities. Antiquities sent by you include hundreds of years old artifacts and photos that were illegally taken out of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and other states. On behalf of all Indians, I thank you.”
Taking about the ongoing situation in Ukraine, the Australian PM said that Russia needs to be held accountable for the tragic loss of lives in Ukraine following its “terrible” invasion of that country.
In his opening remarks, Morrison also referred to the recent meeting of the leaders of the Quad countries on the Ukraine crisis and said it provided an opportunity to discuss the “implications and consequences” of the developments for the Indo-Pacific region.
“We are obviously distressed at the terrible situation in Europe though our focus is very much on Indo-Pacific,” he said.
“Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure and I think our Quad leaders call recently 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,” Morrison added.
Monday’s summit followed the first virtual summit of June 4, 2020, when the India-Australia relationship was elevated to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. That was India’s first virtual summit, in the middle of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.