VISIT TO INDIA CONCLUDES

Media Release – Thursday, 3 September 2015

Over the past three days I have held very positive and productive talks with my Indian counterpart, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, as part of the second Australia-India Defence Ministers’ Meeting in New Delhi.

This engagement signifies an historical step forward in our defence and security relationship.

During my visit I also had the privilege of meeting with other senior Ministers and Officials, including India’s Minister for External Affairs and the National Security Advisor.

As two prominent Indian Ocean states, India and Australia are building a close cooperative relationship in the region, providing for a more secure maritime environment.

A strong network of bilateral and multilateral relationships, supported by regular dialogue and practical cooperation will be increasingly important for Australia’s security. This reinforces the importance of realising the potential for closer cooperation with regional partners, including India.

Minister Parrikar and I discussed our current defence relationship, particularly following the release of the Framework for Security Cooperation by Prime Ministers Abbott and Prime Minister Modi during the Indian leader’s State Visit to Australia in November 2014.

Minister Parrikar and I noted the positive trajectory of our defence relationship, which will be exemplified by the holding of our first bilateral maritime exercise, AUSINDEX, later this month. We also discussed a full range of other issues of mutual interest, including our respective approaches to, and perspectives on, regional security.

Most importantly, we announced a range of new engagement initiatives that will bolster the interaction between our militaries and further strengthen our relationship.

These initiatives include:

a) The Defence Science and Technology Group and the Defence Research and Development Organization would continue to explore opportunities to identify areas for cooperation, initially through an exchange of letters followed by the respective organization heads meeting later in 2015.

b) The commencement of a partnership between our respective peacekeeping centres. This will start with closer engagement to enhance knowledge sharing and mutual capacity building.

c) Increased Air Force cooperation on aviation safety and air worthiness, including subject matter experts’ exchanges, to progress mutual understanding and improve capability.

d) Royal Australian Navy participation in the Indian Navy International Fleet Review in February 2016.

e) The continuation of the Bilateral Maritime Exercise on a biennial basis.

f) The establishment of a Joint Working Group on Defence Research and Material Cooperation.

g) Closer Air Force engagement, including Indian attendance at the Royal Australian Air Force exercise PITCH BLACK; and

h) The creation of a closer Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) relationship, commencing with a regular subject matter expert exchange.

We also agreed to the establishment of an annual 2+2 Defence and Foreign Secretaries Meeting commencing in 2016. This will allow for a more integrated approach on foreign policy and security matters that reflects a greater depth and breadth of our relationship.

Minister Parrikar and I agreed that implementing these initiatives would further strengthen the already robust defence relationship between Australia and India and that their long-term objective is to develop a significant defence and security relationship. This will be important as we respond to shared challenges and work together to ensure a secure and stable region.