ISLAMABAD — Australia is trying to improve its defence ties with both India and Pakistan and has held important negotiations with both the countries.
Australia sent its Minister of Defence Mr. Kevin Andrews to India on a four-day official visit to India where he met with his Indian counterpart Shri Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi to explore wider geo strategic cooperation. On the other hand Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan H.E. Ms. Margaret Adamson called on Pakistani Secretary Defence Lt. General (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak in Rawalpindi to discuss possibilities of broader cooperation between the two states.
Pakistani Secretary Defence Lt .Gen (Retd) Muhammad Alam Khattak appreciated the increase in number of scholarships extended by the Australian Government and additional vacancies for cadet training. Secretary appreciated the role played by Australia in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. He reiterated that peaceful Afghanistan is paramount for peaceful Pakistan.
Khattak thanked Australia for the increased number of scholarships offered to Pakistani students, and the extra places for trainee cadets. He also said that he appreciated Australia’s role in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and emphasized that a peaceful Afghanistan is of vital importance to the maintenance of peace in Pakistan.
The Australian Ambassador appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for peace in the region. She applauded the ongoing Operation Zarb-e-Azb and rendered in high esteem the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives.
According to an official media release “at the end of the meeting both sides agreed to enhance military to military cooperation.”
In New Delhi Indian and Australian high-powers delegations level talks were held on September 2, 2015 to discuss issues of shared strategic interest and the current state of the bilateral defence relationship between the two countries.
Following the first day of talks the two sides issued a joint statement which elaborates the following:
1.“The Ministers acknowledged the positive progress made during the past year in bilateral defence cooperation, and underscored their ongoing interest in fostering and maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The Ministers also discussed the centenary of the First World War and recalled the contribution made by the Indian and ANZAC forces during the Gallipoli campaign.
2. The Ministers affirmed their desire to continue to broaden and deepen the bilateral defence relationship based on shared strategic interests and to implement the action plan outlined in the Framework for Security Cooperation agreed to by the Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott on 18 November 2014.
3. Given both nations’ interest in the Indian Ocean and its vital importance to regional and global trade, the Ministers acknowledged the importance of freedom of maritime navigation and agreed that maritime security should remain a key component of the bilateral defence relationship. Australia and India will also continue to cooperate through joint work as part of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus construct. The Ministers also agreed to continue enhancing relationship between Indian and Australian navies, through bilateral ship visits, exchanges as also through Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and such other fora.
4. The first Navy-to-Navy Bilateral Maritime Exercise will be held later this month. The exercise will involve multiple ship visits and maritime assets from both the countries. The exercise will foster greater interoperability and cooperation between both nations and further contribute to maritime security.
India and Australia also reached an agreement to develop cooperation on defense matters.
Indian Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju received Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews at his office in New Delhi. Rijiju took the opportunity to implicate Pakistan in the funding of terrorism during discussions which covered intelligence-sharing, combating international terrorism, cyber security and improvements to border and maritime security.