Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he and his Indian counterpart and "dear friend" Narendra Modi have agreed on some important new initiatives, including low emissions technology partnership and ultra low cost solar programme, which will help in further deepening the economic ties between the two countries.
The meeting between Modi and Morrison held here on Thursday came a week after they spoke over phone and reviewed the rapid progress in the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including through the recent ''two-plus-two'' dialogue, and exchanged views on regional developments and the forthcoming Quad meeting to be hosted by US President Joe Biden later in the day.
The Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.
"I've just come from a meeting with one of my Quad partners, Prime Minister Modi, a dear friend and great friend of Australia. We've been working together for some years now. Today, at our meeting, we were able to agree on some important new initiatives," Morrison told journalists after the meeting, a transcript of which was released by his office on Friday.
"At our meeting today we agreed to go forward with a low emissions technology partnership, a partnership that will focus on hydrogen development, ultra low cost solar programs, to support their energy transition," he said.
India has world's fastest-growing solar energy program
India currently has the world's fastest-growing solar energy programme and has expanded access to clean cooking fuel to cover over 80 million households, making it one of the largest clean energy drives globally.
One of the key points, Morrison said, they continue to make about addressing climate change is to ensure that there is a technology transfer from developed to developing economies.
"If we want to address climate change, then we need to address the change that is necessary in developing economies, so they can grow their economies, build their industries, make the things the world needs. And, to do that, you need an energy economy that supports those objectives.
"And so, we'll work together closely with our good friends in India, to work with the comparative advantages that Australia has, particularly in the area of hydrogen, and working together with their manufacturing capabilities so they can realise that in their own country," he said.
Quad-AUKUS deals 'complementary'
Replying to a question on the possible impact of the AUKUS deal on the dynamics between the Quad members during its upcoming meeting, Morrison said Australia is engaged in partnerships with many countries, and it sees the Quad and the trilateral partnership of AUKUS as being completely complementary.
"And that''s the discussion that Narendra Modi and I have just had. He certainly sees it in that way, as does Yoshi Suga (Japanese prime minister), when I spoke to him last week...The Quad partners understand the need for positive contributions to regional stability and the AUKUS partnership is all about making that sort of contribution," he said.
Everybody gains from a stable Indo-Pacific, including whether it's in China, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, all will benefit from a stable Indo-Pacific, Morrison asserted.
First-ever in-person Quad summit
At the invitation of President Biden, Prime Minister Modi and his counterparts Morrison from Australia and Yoshihide Suga from Japan have gathered in the American capital for the first-ever in-person Quad summit at the White House.
The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China's increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers.
AUKUS (Australia, the UK and the US) security partnership was unveiled last week by President Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Morrison. The trilateral security alliance, seen as an effort to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, will allow the US and the UK to provide Australia with the technology to develop nuclear-powered submarines for the first time.
Aussie program for Nuke-powered fleet of submarines
Morrison said he had the opportunity to discuss with Modi the recent announcement on the AUKUS agreement and Australia's programme to put in place a nuclear-powered fleet of submarines.
"Of course, I spoke to Prime Minister Modi the night before we made the announcement in Australia last week (on AUKUS)," he said.
The meeting between Morrison and Modi was the first since the unveiling of the AUKUS security partnership. Australia has said its decision to join the security alliance with the US and the UK is aimed at developing capabilities that can contribute along with India and other countries in deterring behaviour that threatens the peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.
France, China slam AUKUS alliance
France reacted angrily to the formation of the new AUKUS alliance as it resulted in Paris effectively losing a multi-billion dollar deal to build 12 conventional submarines for Australia. France is also upset over its exclusion from the alliance.
China has also slammed the formation of the AUKUS.
Morrison said he and Modi also had a "very good discussion" on the Australia-India defence partnership, which "particularly progressed at the most recent 2+2 meeting".
Noting that Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan will be meeting his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal in New Delhi next week, Morrison said he and Modi have tasked "our teams to be ambitious when they sit down next week to look at our trade opportunities, particularly in the area of digital trade arrangements."
Responding to a query on whether his discussions on critical minerals with Prime Minister Modi will translate into more jobs for Australians, Morrison said the issue of pursuing critical mineral supply chains "of course" means more jobs for Australians.
"Of course it does, but it does more than that. Because critical minerals supply chains means that the partners we work with around the world also have access to trusted supply chains on critical minerals. I mean, these are the things that will power up our economies in the new energy economy.
"And critical minerals and rare earths, of which Australia is already very active in producing in these areas, we want to ensure that we're connecting that up right through the supply chain, through production, through to end users, and Prime Minister Modi and I share a passion around that project, because they are also involved in that supply chain at various different points, and it''s important that we have the choice that exists in world markets around these issues," he said.
"We want to play a stronger role here. But...to develop those critical minerals and rare earths opportunities...we need to ensure that the downstream users are caught in a very productive and trusted supply chain," Morrison said.
'Advancing friendship with Australia'
Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in New Delhi on Thursday termed the meeting between Modi and Morrison as “another chapter in our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Australia”.
Advancing friendship with Australia.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) September 23, 2021
PM @ScottMorrisonMP held talks with PM @narendramodi. They discussed a wide range of subjects aimed at deepening economic and people-to-people linkages between India and Australia. pic.twitter.com/zTcB00Kb6q
“Advancing friendship with Australia. PM @ScottMorrisonMP held talks with PM @narendramodi. They discussed a wide range of subjects aimed at deepening economic and people-to-people linkages between India and Australia,” Office of Prime Minister Modi tweeted on Thursday.
During the meeting, the Prime Ministers discussed a broad range of issues of bilateral, regional and global importance. They noted with satisfaction the regular high-level engagements between the two countries, including the recently held first India-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministers’ 2+2 Dialogue.
In a press statement, the MEA said Modi and Morrison reviewed the progress achieved since the Leaders’ Virtual Summit in June 2020 under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and resolved to continue close cooperation for mutual well-being and towards advancing their shared objective of an open, free, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
They expressed satisfaction at the ongoing negotiations on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
The prime ministers underlined the need for the international community to address the issue of climate change on an urgent basis.
"Prime Minister Modi highlighted the need for a broader dialogue on environment protection. Both leaders also discussed possibilities of providing clean technologies," the statement said.
Modi and Morrison agreed that as two vibrant democracies in the region, India and Australia need to work closer together to overcome the challenges in the post-pandemic world, inter alia to enhance supply chain resilience.
Both the leaders lauded the immense contribution of the Indian diaspora to Australia’s economy and society, and discussed ways to enhance people-to-people ties.
Modi also renewed his invitation to Morrison to visit India, the statement said
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