From 1-3 September 2015, I will visit India to advance Australia-India defence cooperation. As part of this visit I will meet with my counterpart, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. I will also call on Prime Minister Modi.
Building on the personal relationship of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Abbott, I am pleased to visit India for the first time as Australia’s Defence Minister.
India is the emerging democratic super power of Asia. It is therefore sensible that the relationship between India and Australia be developed and strengthened.
Our shared history, coupled with our shared democratic values and a strong interest in a secure Indo-Pacific region, provides us with a firm foundation upon which we can confidently pursue future engagement activities in support of our joint interests.
I look forward to identifying a range of new ideas to increase our existing defence cooperation at this year’s talks.
As the first Defence Ministers’ Meeting following the release of the Framework for Security Cooperation by Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Modi during the Indian leader’s State Visit to Australia in November 2014, this year’s talks will be particularly important.
This dialogue provides an opportunity for Minister Parrikar and I to set the direction of our bilateral defence engagement in line with the expectations of the Framework.
Our inaugural bilateral maritime exercise with the Indian Navy, AUSINDEX, is scheduled to occur later this month and will include participation by various naval and air force platforms. It is a strong signal of both countries’ commitment to building defence relations.
I will also address one of India’s preeminent think tanks, the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, on our relationship with India and Australia’s defence policies more broadly.
In the words of Prime Minister Abbott, “This is the time to turn the warm friendship between Australia and India, the long history that Australia and India have together, into something that will be meaningful, more meaningful for us and significant for the wider world.” This is our challenge and it is our task.