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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Indian PM aims to take relationship to ‘next level’ on Australia visit

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for closer bilateral security ties in the face of China’s growing influence after arriving in Australia .

Mr Modi is the only one of the so-called Quad leaders to continue with the planned visit after US President Joe Biden – who has returned to Washington for talks on the country’s looming budget crisis – and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida withdrew following the G7 summit.

He will have talks with Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday after addressing a sold-out crowd of 20,000 in Sydney on Tuesday.

Mr Modi, who last visited Australia in 2014 and arrived from a meeting with Pacific Island leaders in Papua New Guinea, told The Australian newspaper he wanted to take India’s relationship with Australia to the “next level”.

“As two democracies, India and Australia have shared interests in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he said. “There is alignment of our strategic viewpoint.

“The high degree of mutual trust between us has naturally translated into greater cooperation on defence and security matters. Our navies are participating in joint naval exercises. I am confident that there is merit in working together to realise the true potential in closer defence and security cooperation,” Mr Modi added.

With the Sydney leaders’ summit cancelled, a substitute Quad meeting was convened on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

Asked if Australia would raise Muslim and minority rights in India with the Hindu leader, Australia’s deputy prime minister Richard Marles said he expected the two leaders would have a “full conversation”.

“We have never had a greater strategic alignment with India than we do right now,” he said. “Both countries are deeply invested in the collective security of the Indo-Pacific region.”

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