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India-Australia cooperation for air-to-air refueling in advanced stage of discussion

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles in New Delhi on Monday. NEW DELHI: In a fillip to their existing defence relationship, the Defence Ministers of India and Australia on Monday discussed cooperation for air-to-air refueling of their aircraft. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said, "Both ministers underscored the importance to further enhance cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness between the two countries.

The two sides are also in an advanced stage of discussion to conclude implementing arrangements on hydrography cooperation and cooperation for air-to-air refueling." Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles in New Delhi on Monday.   "Both the ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards further strengthening the bilateral defence relations.

They expressed satisfaction at the increasing military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, including joint exercises, exchanges and institutional dialogue," said the MoD. Rajnath emphasised that the forces of the two countries should also look at cooperating in niche training areas like Artificial Intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare and cyber domain. The two ministers agreed that deepening cooperation in defence industry and research would give a fillip to the already strong relationship. The Defence Minister suggested that shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance and aircraft Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) could be the potential areas of collaboration.

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. The Defence Minister congratulated Minister Marles on the maiden and successful conduct of multilateral exercise 'Malabar' by Australia in August this year.

It was the 27th edition of Exercise Malabar, which concluded in August on the East Coast of Australia off Sydney. The exercise saw participation of ships, submarines and aircraft from the Indian Navy (IN), Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the US Navy (USN). The Malabar series of exercises, organized by Australia this year, began as an annual bilateral naval exercise between India and the US in 1992.

Japan joined the naval exercises in 2015. Malabar 2020 saw the participation of the Australian Navy also. India and Australia are pursuing a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and the visit of Marles is expected to give further impetus to the collaboration as well as bilateral defence cooperation. The two countries are expected to discuss wide-ranging issues of mutual interest during the 2+2 dialogue and the bilateral Defence Ministers' meeting. Bilateral relations between Australia and India were upgraded from a Strategic Partnership in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) in 2020.

Over the years, in addition to the 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers' Dialogue, an array of institutional mechanisms has been put in place to promote bilateral co-operation. Bilateral mechanisms include high-level visits, annual meetings of Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue, Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission, Defence Policy Talks, Australia-India Education Council, Defence Services Staff Talks, Energy Dialogue and Joint Working Groups (JWGs) on different issues. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)