A landmark defence pact inked
India and Australia inked a landmark agreement on 4 June 2020 for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support besides firming up six more pacts to further broad base ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison held an online summit. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
- Besides the MLSA, the other pacts signed will provide for bilateral cooperation in areas of cyber and cyber-enabled critical technology, mining and minerals, military technology, vocational education and water resources management.
- The two sides also deliberated on a host of key issues including dealing with growing threat of terrorism, maritime security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, reform in the World Trade Organisation and ways to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
- Reflecting the importance they attached to the Indo-Pacific, the two countries also unveiled a declaration titled ‘Shared Vision for Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific’, outlining their commitment to promoting peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region.
- According to a joint statement issued after the Modi-Morrison talks, both sides discussed the issue of taxation of offshore income of Indian firms through the use of the India-Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and sought early resolution of the issue.
- It said both sides also decided to re-engage on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) while suitably considering earlier bilateral discussions where a mutually agreed way forward can be found.
- The two countries recognised that terrorism remains a threat to peace and stability in the region and strongly condemned the menace in all its forms and manifestations, stressing that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever.
- The joint statement said both sides support a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, including by countering violent extremism, preventing radicalisation, disrupting financial support to terrorists and facilitating prosecution of those involved in acts of terror. They also called for early adoption of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).
- India was committed to expand its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace, noting that it is important not only for the two countries, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
- The role of our comprehensive strategic partnership will be more important in this period of global epidemic. The world needs a coordinated and collaborative approach to get out of the economic and social side effects of this epidemic.
- The joint statement said to provide oversight of the comprehensive strategic partnership and to deepen economic and strategic cooperation, India and Australia affirm their desire to increase the frequency of prime ministerial contact through reciprocal bilateral visits and annual meetings in the margins of international events.
- This is a perfect time to further strengthen relations between India and Australia. There are endless opportunities to strengthen our friendship, it also brings with it challenges to turn this potential into reality, how our relationship becomes a factor of stability for the region.
- India is committed to strengthening its relations with Australia, it is not only important for our two nations but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the whole world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during the interaction.
- India has already signed similar agreements with the US, France and Singapore.
- The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus pandemic. We share an ocean & we share responsibility for that ocean as well, its health, well being & security.
- This is the first virtual bilateral summit India is holding with any country. Australia held one with Singapore in March.
- The two leaders last spoke on April 6 where they had discussed Covid-19, including facilitation and support for citizens stranded in each other’s country.