New Delhi: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will pay a four-day visit to India from March 8 to build a stronger partnership between the two countries.
It will be the first visit by an Australian prime minister to India since 2017. “Our relationship with India is strong but it can be stronger,” Albanese, who assumed the top post in May last year, said on Saturday.
In a statement, the Australian PM’s office said Albanese will also join Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the fourth cricket Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Ahmedabad.
It said his visit to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and New Delhi will further deepen Australia’s strategic, economic and people to people ties with India, a ”close friend and partner” to Canberra.
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Albanese will join Modi for the Australia-India Annual Leaders’ summit in New Delhi, it said.
“A stronger India-Australia partnership is good for the stability of our region. It also means more opportunities and more trade and investment, strengthening our economies and directly benefiting our people,” Albanese said.
The Australian statement said Albanese and Modi will discuss cooperation in areas of trade and investment, renewable energy, technology and defence and security. ”As we look to the future, India will continue to be an important partner and close friend to Australia,” Albanese said.
”I look forward to hosting Prime Minister Modi in Australia mid-year for the Quad Leaders’ Summit and to visiting India again in September for the G20 Leaders’ Summit,” he said. Announcing the visit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Albanese will be accompanied by Minister for Trade and Tourism, Don Farrell and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Madeleine King.
The MEA said Albanese will arrive in Ahmedabad on March 8 on the day of Holi and will visit Mumbai on March 9 before arriving in Delhi later in the day.
The Australian prime minister will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 10, it said.
Following this, Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Albanese will hold the annual summit to discuss areas of cooperation under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, besides regional and global issues of mutual interest. The ties between India and Australia have been on an upswing in the last few years.
The strategic partnership between the two countries was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2020.
”Prime Minister Albanese’s visit is expected to provide further momentum to the comprehensive strategic partnership,” the MEA said in a statement. In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the 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.
In August last year, four Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets and two C-17 heavy-lift aircraft of the Indian Air Force joined a 17-nation air combat exercise in Australia.
Over 100 aircraft and 2,500 personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, the US and the UK participated in the exercise in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Australia is set to host the Malabar naval exercise later this year. It will involve the navies of India, Australia, Japan and the US.