India and Australia today established a framework for bilateral security cooperation as they stepped up their defence collaboration for advancing regional peace and combating terrorism among other challenges.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott held talks and agreed to establish a Framework for Security Cooperation to reflect the deepening and expanding security and defence engagement between the two countries.
They established the framework to intensify cooperation and consultation between Australia and India in areas of mutual interest.
“I greatly welcome the New Framework for Security Cooperation. Security and defence are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership — for advancing regional peace and stability, and combating terrorism and trans-national crimes,” Modi said in the statement to the media at a joint press conference with Abbott.
Modi, while addressing the Parliament later, also called for collaboration in the field of maritime security.
“We should collaborate more on maintaining maritime security. We should work together on the seas and collaborate in international forums. And, we should work for a universal respect for international law and global norms,” he said reiterating his call for collaboration on maritime security made at the East Asia and ASEAN summits in Myanmar last week.
Modi and Abbott decided that the framework will be implemented in accordance with an action plan.
The action plan states that there will be an annual summit and foreign policy exchanges and coordination.
The plan includes annual meeting of Prime Ministers, including on the margins of multilateral meetings, foreign Ministers’ framework dialogue, senior officials’ talks led by India’s Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Secretary of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The action plan also talks about East Asia talks between External Affairs senior officials, defence policy planning and coordination.
The framework agreed on will be implemented according to the action plan which calls for regular defence ministers’ meeting, annual defence policy talks, service to service engagement including regular high-level visits, annual staff talks, joint training and regular exercises and regular bilateral maritime exercises.
It also calls for exploring defence research and development cooperation, including through visits by Australian and Indian defence material delegations and efforts to foster joint industry links.
The action plan also includes an annual Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism and other transnational crimes, cooperation in counter-terrorism training and exchanges between experts on countering improvised explosive devices, bomb incidents and technologies among others.
Progress under the action plan will be reviewed through established institutional arrangements, including the Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue and the Defence Ministers’ meeting.
“The Prime Minister of India and the Prime Minister of Australia reaffirm that the strategic partnership between India and Australia is based on converging political, economic and strategic interests; a shared desire to promote regional and global peace, security and prosperity; and a commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement on the Framework for Security Cooperation said.