New Delhi [India], March 10 (ANI): Shedding light on the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Friday said that PM Albanese's visit to India underlines his enthusiasm and commitment to India-Australia ties.
He further said that both leaders were satisfied with the "all-round progress" in various areas of the partnership between the two nations across fields including trade.
Both the prime ministers met for the first India-Australia Annual Summit talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
"Both leaders (PM Modi-PM Albanese) assessed very clearlynoted with great satisfaction the strong all-round progress across a range of areas, including science and technology, strategicsecurity domain, renewable energy partnership in critical minerals, tradeeconomic engagement," the Foreign Secretary said during a press conference.
The full set of comprehensive progress that the two countries have achieved since the relationship was upgraded to a comprehensive, strategic partnership in 2020.
Pointing that Albanese's visit and today's annual summit will take India-Australia ties to a higher level, Vinay Kwatra said, "PM Albanese's visit underlines his enthusiasmcommitment to India-Australia ties. It is also the first annual summit between IndiaAustralia at the level of the leaders. The Summit mechanism was established as an outcome of the 2nd virtual Summit held in March last year."The Australian Prime Minister arrived in Delhi on Thursday evening after concluding his engagements in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
Kwatra mentioned PM Albanese's visit to INS Vikrant yesterday and said that he was the first foreign leader to get onboard the indigenously built aircraft carrier since its commissioning last year.
"PM Albanese was particularly appreciative of his visit to INS Vikrant - we are told the first foreign leader to do so since the first indigenously-built aircraft carrier was commissioned last September," the FS said.
Calling PM Albanese's visit as a testimony of his commitment towards the ties between the two countries, Kwatra said, "PM Albanese's visit underlines his enthusiasm and commitment to India-Australia ties. It is also the first annual summit between India and Australia at the level of the leaders. The Summit mechanism was established as an outcome of the 2nd virtual Summit held in March last year."Earlier today, PM Modi and PM Albanese held bilateral talks at Hyderabad House and addressed a joint press conference.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the Australian PM Anthony Albanese, in light of the recent attacks on temples in Australia, has assured that the safety and well-being of the Indian community in Australia is a priority for him.
"Since the last few weeks, news of attacks on temples in Australia are coming regularly. It is natural that such news worries people in India. I have raised these concerns with Prime Minister Albanese who has assured me that the safety of the Indian community is a special priority for him," PM Modi said during India-Australia: Exchange of Agreements and Press Statements on Friday.
The PM while speaking alongside Australian PM Anthony Albanese, said: "On this subject, our teams will be in regular touch and will cooperate as best as possible. It is important to deal with such challenges and global well-being."The PM said that the Indian diaspora is now the second-largest immigrant community in Australia. "This Indian community is contributing a lot to the society and economy of Australia," the PM said.
PM Modi said he expressed gratitude to the Australian PM for the country's cooperation in India's G20 chairmanship.
PM Modi said that at the G20 Summit in September, he will again have the opportunity to welcome the Australian PM to India.
Albanese said that high-level contact between the two countries has further strengthened cooperation across many sectors.
"I look forward to hosting PM Modi in Australia for the Quad Leaders summit in May and then returning to India in September for the G20 Leaders summit. The frequent high-level content between Australia and India has further strengthened cooperation across a range of areas including tradeinvestment, climate and energy, defence and security, and between the people of our two countries."Last year, both countries had signed a free trade agreement called the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement.
The bilateral trade between the two countries amounts to nearly 27 billion dollars in 2021-22. The bilateral trade is expected to cross 45 to 50 billion dollars by 2035.
The Australian Prime Minister is currently on an official visit to India from March 8 to 11 During the first India-Australia Annual Summit held here today both countries shared their commitment towards the further deepening of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both nations exchanged MoU for cooperation in sports and audio-visual co-production.
The Indian and Australian sides also exchanged Terms of Reference for the India-Australia Solar Task Force, a Letter of Intent between the Atal Innovation Mission and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
In the joint press conference, Albanese said that Australia also agreed to strengthen its defence partnerships with India.
"We agreed on an early conclusion of our ambitious Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement as soon as possible. I am hopeful that we will be able to finalise it this year," he said.
He further said that CECA will open new employment opportunities for both countries."CECA will open new employment opportunities for both countries. We will finalise and hope for an early conclusion of CECA this year. Australia has eliminated tariffs on 85 per cent of goods exported to India according to the trade agreement signed last year between the two countries," he said.
Based on the recommendation of the Joint Study Group (JSG) in 2010 and subsequent approval of The Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC) headed by the then Prime Minister of India on 29.04.2011, India is negotiating with Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) covering trade in goods, services, investment and related issues.Five rounds of negotiations for India Australia CECA negotiations have been held so far. The first round was held in July 2011 and the last i.e. 5th round was held on May 2013 in Canberra. (ANI)