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Defence Important Pillar Of India-Australia Partnership: Rajnath

NEW DELHI: The Indian Navy will take part in the Australian maritime exercise Endeavour in October. That was a key takeaway from Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on Wednesday in Delhi. Earlier Marles had visited Goa Shipyard and was briefed on the autonomous boat project being developed there.

“We discussed our defence partnership & our shared ambition to ensure a secure, prosperous & resilient Indo-Pacific,” Marles said. He is the first Australian minister to visit India since the change of government in Canberra last month.

A joint statement said the two ministers reviewed the existing defence cooperation activities which have been increasing despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation.

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Australia is a close and trusted partner of India, said Rajnath, adding that defence cooperation between India and Australia is an “important pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Our close partnership is an important factor of stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The ministers decided that the India-Australia Joint Working Group on defence research and material cooperation— a mechanism for boosting ties between defence industries— will meet in Australia later this year. Strategic challenges and the regional security situation was discussed and both sides reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo Pacific region, the joint statement said.