India, Australia PMs discuss Covid-19, clean energy amid AUKUS row

Amid a raging controversy over the AUKUS security partnership between US, Australia and UK, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first in-person meeting with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and discussed ways to take the burgeoning bilateral relations to new heights.

“They discussed a broad range of issues which covered bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. They noted with satisfaction the high-level engagement between the two countries, particularly the first recently held India-Australia 2+2 dialogue, which was held in New Delhi,” said India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

In his talks, PM Modi conveyed appreciation to the Australian leader for taking care of the Indian community during the Covid crisis in Australia.

“Outstanding,” said Mr Scott Morrison said when asked how the meeting went. A week ago, Mr Morrison had briefed Mr Modi on the AUKUS alliance before it was announced formally.

“Another chapter in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia!,” tweeted Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs. He said Modi and Morrison discussed “regional & global developments as well as ongoing bilateral cooperation in areas related to Covid-19, trade, defence, clean energy & more.”

In the virtual bilateral summit last year between Mr Modi and Mr 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.  The summit produced, among other things, 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. T



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