Wed, 06 Dec 2023

New Delhi [India], November 20 (ANI): Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held a bilateral meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles. The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral defence relations.

Rajnath Singh and Richard Marles expressed satisfaction at the increasing military-to-military cooperation between the two nations, including joint exercises, exchanges and institutional dialogue. Singh congratulated Minister Marles on the maiden and successful conduct of the multilateral exercise 'Malabar' by Australia in August this year.

"Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mr Richard Marles in New Delhi on November 20, 2023. Both the ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards further strengthening the bilateral defence relations," the Ministry of Defence said in a press release.

The two leaders underscored the importance of further enhancing cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness between the two nations. During the meeting, Rajnath Singh emphasised that the forces of the two nations should look at cooperating in niche training areas like Artificial Intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare and cyber domain.

"The two sides are also in an advanced stage of discussion to conclude implementing arrangements on hydrography cooperation and cooperation for air-to-air refuelling," the Ministry of Defence said in the press release.

Richard Marles and Rajnath Singh agreed that deepening cooperation in the defence industry and research would give a fillip to the already strong relationship. Singh suggested that shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance and aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) could be potential areas of collaboration.

In the press release, the Ministry of Defence said, "The two ministers also discussed cooperation for joint research in underwater technologies. Collaboration between the defence start-ups of both the countries, including that for solving challenges jointly, was discussed by the ministers.""They concurred that a strong India-Australia defence partnership will augur well not just for the mutual benefit of the two countries but also for the overall security of the Indo-Pacific," it added.

Rajnath Singh expressed confidence that the partnership between India and Australia will scale new heights in the time to come.

Taking to X, Rajnath Singh stated, "Excellent meeting with Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Mr. @RichardMarlesMP in New Delhi today. We had wide-ranging discussions on a number of issues pertaining to strengthening our bilateral strategic engagements. I am confident India-Australia partnership will scale newer heights in the times to come."In a post shared on X, Richard Marles stated, "Always a pleasure to see Defence Minister @rajnathsingh to discuss the ever-growing defence partnership. 2023 has been a big year for our ADF and the Indian Armed Forces with greater engagement and cooperation."Earlier, Richard Marles inspected the Tri-Services Guard of Honour in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at South Block lawns in New Delhi. Marles was received by Rajnath Singh and the two leaders greeted each other.

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. Richard Marles, along with Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong, laid a wreath at the National War Memorial in Delhi. On Sunday, he also watched the ICC Cricket World Cup with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (ANI)

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