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Australia ministerial visit enhances Indo-Pacific defence ties

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles said that defence engagement between India and Australia will ensure closer ties between the two strategic partners.

A day earlier, the Australian Defence Minister held a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh as both sides reviewed the regional security situation and reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, free and rules-based Indo-Pacific region. Marles, who arrived in India on June 20 on a four-day visit, today said he has invited Rajnath Singh to visit Australia.

"We had a meeting with Defence Minister of India...we have invited him to Australia...we need more such engagement. Greater engagement between two Defence forces to ensure that we become more closer," said Richard Marles, who is also Australia's deputy prime minister.

He also underlined the security threat emanating from China. "China is Australia's the largest trading partner and so is for India. China is our biggest security anxiety and so is for India. We are friends and are exchanging notes."

"We have seen that in the South China Sea and also with India along the LAC two years back, the appalling behaviour with Indian soldiers. For us, we are experiencing that in the South China Sea," he added.

On the AUKUS grouping, he said the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is "not a security exchange."

In the backdrop of the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the minister said, "We have seen China and Russia practical relationships...so we are very mindful of that. For democracy, it is very important to maintain peace in the world."
Speaking at the National Defence College, Marles on June 22 said the "assault on Indian forces" along the Line of Actual Control with China in 2020 was a warning that the world should heed.


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