Modi raises with Australian counterpart attacks on temples, pro-Khalistani activities
Sydney: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday raised with his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese India’s concerns over incidents of attacks on temples and activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Australia even as the two countries decided to conclude a comprehensive trade deal by the end of the year.
Modi invites Albanese to watch Cricket World Cup, Diwali celebration in India
After wide-ranging talks between Modi and Albanese, the two sides also inked a migration and mobility partnership pact to open up opportunities for students, academic researchers and business people and to prevent illegal migration.
Modi and Albanese also witnessed the signing of the terms of reference of the Australia-India Green Hydrogen Taskforce which will explore opportunities in the area of renewable hydrogen.
Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said the Modi-Albanese talks focused on cooperation in green hydrogen, defence and security, trade and investment, new and renewable energy, critical minerals, education, complementarities and competencies of the two economies and people to people ties.
In his media statement in presence of Albanese, Modi said the bilateral relations are based on “mutual trust and respect”and that the Indian community in Australia is a “living bridge” between the two countries.
“Prime Minister Albanese and I have discussed the issue of attacks on temples in Australia and the activities of separatist elements in the past. Today also we had discussion on the issue,” Modi said.
“It is not acceptable to us that any element harms the warm and friendly relations between India and Australia by their thoughts or their actions. I thank Prime Minister Albanese for the steps he has taken in this regard,” he said.
“And at the same time, he assured me once again that he will continue to take strict action against such elements,” Modi said.
Asked about attacks on temples and activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Australia, Kwatra said the ties between the two sides are very strong and extensive and such elements will not be allowed to disrupt the relations.
To a question on activities of the pro-Khalistani elements in her country, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Australia is a multicultural democracy and that there is no space for hatred and violence.
Kwatra said Modi and Albanese also touched upon the impact of the Ukraine conflict, situation in the Indo-Pacific, cooperation under Quad, reform of the UN, engagement of India and Australia with Pacific Island states and potential bilateral cooperation to benefit the Global South.
He said the focus of the discussion on the Ukraine conflict was on its impact, especially on the economic aspect. Australia also extended its support to India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
In his media statement, Modi used cricket analogy to describe the fast-expanding India-Australia ties, saying the relations have entered the “T-20 mode”.
“I am visiting Australia within two months of the visit of my friend, Prime Minister Albanese to India. This is our sixth meeting in the past one year. This reflects a depth in our comprehensive relations, convergence in our views, and the maturity of our ties,” he said.
“In the language of cricket, our ties have reached the T20 mode,” Modi said. “The India-Australia friendship is a special one.”
Describing his meeting with Albanese as “constructive”, Modi said they deliberated on taking the Australia-India comprehensive strategic partnership to “greater heights” in the next decade.
“Last year, the India-Australia economic cooperation and trade agreement came into effect. Today, we have decided to focus on a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA). This will further strengthen our economic partnership and open up new avenues for cooperation,” he said.
Modi said the discussions also focused on strengthening strategic cooperation in the sectors of mining and critical minerals and that concrete areas for cooperation were identified in the renewable energy sector.
In his remarks, Albanese said the aim is to conclude the CECA by the end of the year. “We reiterated our shared ambition for an early conclusion of the Australia-India comprehensive economic cooperation agreement later this year,” he said.
The labour mobility agreement provides for 3,000 places for people who are highly skilled to come to Australia in areas for work, he said.
Modi said the India-Australia relationship is not just limited to the two countries as it is also linked to regional stability, peace and global welfare.
“We had constructive discussions on strengthening our strategic cooperation in the sectors of mining and critical minerals. We identified concrete areas for cooperation and in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
The two prime ministers also reiterated their commitment to an open, prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific, amid China’s aggressive military push in the region.
“India-Australia cooperation can also be beneficial for the progress of the Global South. The Indian tradition of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, which sees the whole world as one family, is the central theme of India’s G-20 Presidency,” Modi said.
“I heartily thank Prime Minister Albanese for Australia’s support to our initiatives in the G-20,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Kwatra said the focus of the discussion on the Ukraine conflict was on its impact, especially on the economic front.
In his remarks to the media, Albanese announced the establishment of a new Australian Consulate-General in Bengaluru primarily to connect Australian businesses to India’s booming digital economy and innovation ecosystem.
“This is a relationship we need to invest in. Our strong partnership with India will deliver benefits for Australia in trade, investment and business, and in regional security and stability,” he said.
Referring to the Quad summit in Hiroshima, Albanese said the leaders of the grouping “stand together for an open, stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific — a region where sovereignty is respected, and all countries large and small benefit from a regional balance that keeps the peace.”
The Australian prime minister also spoke about the rapid upswing in the ties between the two countries.
“In my first year as Prime Minister, I have met with Prime Minister Modi six times, which underscores the value we place on deepening ties between our nations,” he said.
“Australia is a better place because of the contributions of the Indian-Australian community, and we want to see more connections between our countries,” he said.
Albanese and Foreign Minister Wong announced that the new Centre for Australia-India Relations will be head-quartered in Parramatta.
The Centre began operations this month and will drive deeper engagement with India through business, policy and cultural activities and work with Indian diaspora communities.
Ahead of the talks, Modi was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour at the Admiralty House in Sydney.