Sat, 02 Dec 2023

New Delhi [India], November 20 (ANI): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the progress has been made in several areas during his meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles , adding that today's meeting has provided an opportunity to further deepen the defence partnership between the two nations.

In his opening remarks at the bilateral meeting with Richard Marles, Rajnath Singh said, "During our earlier discussion, we were able to identify areas and initiatives where our two countries could collaborate. I am happy to note the progress already made in many of these areas. Today's meeting will give us an opportunity to reaffirm our resolve to further deepen our defence partnership."Meanwhile, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said that it is great to be back in India. He congratulated India for the way it hosted the World Cup. He highlighted the importance that Australia attaches to its relationship with India.

In his opening remarks, Marles said, "It's great to be back in India again and to be here at such an auspicious time for the World Cup. I congratulate India for the way it hosted the World Cup and the way in which India has played. And we feel lucky with the result last night. But it has been just a great expression of the friendship between Australia and India."He stressed that India and Australia share traditions of democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech and heritage, including cricket. He stated that Australia considers its relationship with India as one of the most important relations in the world.

"It is hard to overstate how importantly we regard India and our relationship with India we are. In a difficult world, particularly,... we are neighbours. We have a deep strategic alignment but more importantly, we have shared traditions of democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and heritage, including cricket and and what that means is that we want to be working closely together. But we say at the heart of the relationship has been defence," Rajnath Singh said.

"This year has been the year of firsts we have had so many first steps that have been taken which have built the balance about in the defence relationship and we are so pleased with that and....We are very excited about the opportunity that we are meeting today to take that forward in the future. We see the defence relationship is critical to hold bilateral relationship. We see our relationship with India relationship right up there and among one of the most important relationships that we have in the world," he added.

Earlier, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles inspected the Tri-Services Guard of Honour in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at South Block lawns in New Delhi.

Rajnath Singh received him and the two leaders warmly greeted each other. Earlier, Richard Marles was seen enjoying Indian delicacies from the street stalls in New Delhi.

He enjoyed drinking nimbu pani and eating "Ram laddu" from a stall in Delhi. Notably, Marles paid the vendor through the UPI digital payment system.

The Australian leader also paid floral tribute to former Union Minister Arun Jaitley at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.

Earlier today, the Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, visited and laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Delhi.

Later in the day, the two Australian leaders will co-chair the India-Australia 22 dialogue with their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The second India-Australia 22 Ministerial Dialogue will be held in the national capital on Monday, during which a wide range of strategic, defence and security issues are expected to be discussed between the two countries, an official statement said.

Moreover, the 22 Ministerial Dialogue is a cornerstone of the India-Australia relationship and an opportunity to progress in working together to shape the type of region they want.

Further noting that this year has seen a number of firsts in the India-Australia defence relationship, including an Indian submarine visit to Perth and Australia's hosting of Exercise Malabar, Marles added that all this demonstrates the growing closeness of both nation's defence and security partnerships, according to the Australian Foreign Ministry. (ANI)

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