Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be in Australia for around three days from February 27 for holding bilateral talks with Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles to strengthen defence cooperation, especially in Indian Ocean Region. The Defence Ministry sources stated that Rajnath Singh will also invite Australian industries to explore opportunities in India’s $100 billion defence industry.

Besides the official engagements, the Australia India Chamber of Commerce (AICC) is also hosting an event in Melbourne on February 27 concerned with the defence and security issues to draw their industries to explore common interests in supply chain and in maritime, drones segments for which New Delhi can offer for strategic benefits, said government sources.

The minister will also review progress made by India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Industry Research and Material post the Ministry of Defence joint secretary, Anurag Bajpai-led delegation’s visit to Canberra on November 22, last year. The JWG discussed how Indian and Australian defence industrial bases can increase supply chain resilience through collaboration, Australian defence officials told the businessline.

“Closer defence industry ties between India and Australia will make us more capable partners,” Australian defence officials observed.

Comprehensive Strategic Partnership

Singh during his meeting is also slated to deliberate on the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership securing regional interests in the regions in the Indian Ocean, as both the countries are partners in Quad along with United States and Japan. Quad Senior Cyber Group Meeting was held in Delhi on January to “better secure cyberspace and foster an international digital economy that works for everyone, including regional partners in the Indo-Pacific,” US National Security Council Spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.

The defence cooperation between the two countries is increasing and visible in the participation of significant number of bilateral and multilateral exercises held last year. Among them are KAKADU, MALABAR, MILAN, PITCH BLACK and AUSTRAHIND.

Marles also toured India from June 20 to June 23, 2022 for a bilateral meeting with Singh. In a joint statement, the two had also reaffirmed 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. The two countries agreed to build upon operational engagements through the India-Australia Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.

As part of General Rawat Young Defence Officers Exchange Program announced during Marles visit, 15 Australian defence force officers will come to India to participate in a two-week programme which will also help increase people-to-people ties, said Australian defence officials.