India and Australiaon on Wednesday reviewed the existing defence cooperation activities which have been increasing despite challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and discussed ways to enhance further cooperation. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and visiting Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles held a bilateral meeting in New Delhi. During the meeting, they reviewed the defence and security pillars of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment towards implementation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership based on mutual trust and understanding, common interests and shared values, of democracy and rule of law. They also welcomed the growing diversity and frequency of defence exercises and exchanges between the two countries and undertook to build upon operational engagements through the India-Australia Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.
Both the Ministers committed to give fillip to the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation, which will meet in Australia later this year. This JWG is a crucial mechanism for boosting ties between defence industries. The Ministers discussed further opportunities for industrial cooperation between India and Australia to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to their respective defence forces. Both sides also agreed to explore means to grow connections and opportunities between Indian and Australian defence industrial bases. In the meeting, they welcomed the plan to commence the landmark General Rawat Young Officer Exchange Programme in the latter half of 2022. The Ministers also reviewed strategic challenges and the regional security situation and reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo Pacific region.