Amid China tensions, Australia signs comprehensive defense pact with India

A picture of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is displayed on a conference screen.

Australia and India have upgraded their diplomatic relationship during a virtual summit of their leaders learned GDC citing SBS News.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit between Australia and India at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, June 4, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2020 Virtual Leaders Summit Source: AAP

The new comprehensive strategic partnership is similar agreements Australia signed with Singapore and Indonesia.

The countries now share a comprehensive strategic partnership, underpinned by a raft of new agreements to co-operate on research, cyber, infrastructure, trade, education, logistics, defence, science, and Indo-Pacific maritime issues.

Military vehicles carrying missiles march at the Tiananmen Square during a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, China, September 3, 2015. China’s President Xi Jinping and world leader inspected 12,000 troops marching across the square. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

It comes as both countries attempt to counter rising Chinese influence in the Pacific, and amid Australia’s stoush with China over an investigation into the origins of coronavirus and a decision by Beijing to impose an 80 per cent tariff on Australian barley.

Tensions between the world’s two most populous countries, India and China have flared once again in recent weeks, along their disputed border high in the Himalayas, prompting fears of an inadvertent escalation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says stepping up the relationship with India would build trust even further between the nations.

“In a time like this, we want to deal very much with friends and trusted partners, and this is a partnership which has stood the test time and again,” he told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi via videolink on Thursday.

“We share a vision for open, free, rules-based multilateral systems in our region, whether that’s in the health area or it’s in trade or in other places.”

Mr Morrison also joked about the personal relationship between the leaders, built via social media exchanges about curries.

“I wish I could be there for what has become the famous Modi hug and to be able to share my samosas,” he said.

Next time, it will have to be the Gujarati kashti, which I know is a keen favourite of yours that you’ve mentioned to me before. I’ll try that out in the kitchen before next time we meet in person.

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A trade deal between the two countries has been stalled for several years.

Mr Morrison noted the trade and investment flows were not where he or Mr Modi would like them to be but he hoped they would now grow faster.

India is Australia’s eighth-largest trading partner and fifth-largest export market, due largely to coal and education exports.

Mr Morrison was to have travelled to India in January but postponed the trip to deal with the bushfires, then the coronavirus pandemic halted international movements.

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