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'India, Australia deepening security ties as tensions with China rise'
Washington: India and Australia are deepening their security and economic ties, with both countries seeking to diversify their export markets, shore up supply chains and upgrade their militaries as tensions with China rise, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on his first visit to India since 2017, said that later in 2023, India would for the first time, participate in a major Australian and U.S. military exercise. He said that Australia and India will work together on clean energy, including manufacturing solar panels. Albanese during his visit to India attended a cricket match and visited an Indian aircraft carrier. He said: "My visit reflects my government's commitment to place India at the heart of Australia's approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond."
Relations between Australia and India have been warm in recent years. Along with the U.S. and Japan, both countries are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, a group of democratic nations aimed at countering Chinese expansionism. Last year, Australia and India signed an interim free-trade agreement, which eliminated or reduced tariffs and duties on many of each other's products, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Peter Varghese, chancellor at the University of Queensland, who was earlier Australia's High Commissioner to India, said: "We are in a sweet spot in the relationship, and it's certainly the strongest it's ever been in the last 75 years of independent India."
Both India and Australia, according to The Wall Street Journal, have an interest in lessening their dependence on China. During the Covid-19 pandemic, a diplomatic spat prompted China, Australia's largest trading partner, to place restrictions on Australian products such as beef, barley, coal and wine.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a meeting with Albanese, said that security cooperation is an important pillar of the two countries' partnership. He noted that the two leaders discussed maritime security in the Indo-Pacific and strengthening information exchange between their security agencies.
According to The Wall Street Journal, ties between Australia and India have ebbed and flowed, with foreign-policy experts saying it has been difficult to move beyond what is called the three Cs: curry, cricket and the Commonwealth of Nations, a group of former British territories that includes Australia and India. But the political will to deepen ties between Australia and India is clearly there now, experts said.
Harsh V. Pant, vice president for foreign policy at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, as quoted by WSJ, said: "Certainly, the China factor has given a new momentum that has galvanized the relationship."
He added that India, which has historically maintained a nonaligned status, has become much more open about its defence partnerships with other nations as tensions with China grow. (ANI)