Will discuss Ukraine with Modi: Australian PM

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday said the situation in Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific would figure in his virtual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 21.

Mr. Morrison said ways to deepen bilateral trade and investment ties and harness new economic opportunities to support mutual economic recovery and growth would also be discussed.

“We will discuss a range of regional and multilateral issues, including the situation in Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific, and Myanmar,” the Australian Prime Minister said in a statement.

Mr. Morrison said Australia and India’s strong bilateral relationship was based on mutual understanding and trust and that both sides have a shared vision for the Indo-Pacific.

Monday’s summit follows the historic first virtual summit of June 4, 2020 when the India-Australia relationship was elevated to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.

Mr. Morrison said. “Central to these endeavours are strengthened cooperation in defence and security, science and technology, and critical minerals and clean energy.”

The Australian Prime Minister said he is hosting Mr. Modi at the virtual annual leaders’ meeting.

“I look forward to reaffirming our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and advancing our shared bilateral and regional agenda,” he said.

Announcing the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said Mr. Modi and Mr. Morrison were expected to commit to closer bilateral ties in trade, critical minerals, migration and mobility, and education.

“The virtual summit will lay the way forward on new initiatives and enhanced cooperation in a diverse range of sectors between India and Australia,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.

Ties between India and Australia have been on an upswing in the last few years.

Access to military bases

In June 2020, India and Australia signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by India in November 2020 as well as last year. The navies of the U.S. and Japan were also part of it. Australia was part of the Malabar exercise this year as well.

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