In the first ever virtual bilateral summit between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, India and Australia elevated their bilateral ties to the level of “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” (CSP), placing it at par with India’s other CSP partners such as the US, Indonesia and Vietnam, among others. Both countries also announced upgrading a key dialogue — till now held between the foreign secretaries and defence secretaries of the two countries — to the level of foreign and defence ministers. The two countries have significantly expanded cooperation in maritime domain awareness amid China’s perceived assertiveness in the region. In this regard, the summit produced a Joint Declaration on a Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which emphasises supporting a rules-based order, respect for sovereignty and international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. The joint statement further reiterated mutual commitment of India and Australia to supporting regional architecture, and underlined the ASEAN centrality and unity. Both countries have further decided to deepen navy-to-navy cooperation and expressed their commitment to enhancing civil maritime cooperation between law enforcement agencies and coast guard cooperation.
Key Highlights from the first-ever India-Australia E-summit on June 4, 2020.
- Both Prime Ministers recognised the importance of a globally coordinated response to the Covid-19, PM Modi reiterated that India-Australia relations have become a “factor of stability” for Indo-Pacific and for the world and emphasised India’s commitment to expanding relations with Australia on a “wider and faster pace.”
- Australian Prime Minister commended India on its leadership on taking Chair of WHO’s executive board and thanked PM Modi for his leadership “not just within India bur broadly throughout G-20, Indo-Pacific and the stabilising, constructive and very positive role” he played in these “very difficult times.”
- India and Australia signed a Framework Arrangement on Cyber and Cyber enabled Critical Technology Cooperation, MoU on cooperation in the field of mining and processing of Critical and Strategic minerals, arrangement concerning mutual logistics support, MoU on co-operation in the field of Public administration and governance reforms, MoU on cooperation in Vocational Education and Training, MoU on Water Resource Management among others.
- Both sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, they supported a comprehensive approach in combatting the same and resolved to work with internet companies to strengthen transparency to prevent online terrorist activity
- It was agreed to deepen and broaden defence cooperation by enhancing scope and complexity of their military exercises and engagement activities to develop new ways to address shared security challenges.
- Economic Cooperation figured prominently in their discussion and decided to re-engage on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). They jointly decided to explore the possibility of launching the Indian RuPay Card in Australia.
- Significantly to ensure oversight of the CSP, both sides affirmed their desire to increase the frequency of reciprocal bilateral visits and annual meetings while expressing commitment to continue using existing channels such as the Energy Dialogue, Consular Dialogue etc.
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