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Australia to cement ties with India

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In a renewed attempt at tightening the “Quad” agreement, Australia will fortify its ties with India in a series of deals worth $190 million. It is hoped that this will pressure Russia to end its war against Ukraine.

In an online meeting that took place on Monday night at 6pm, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi forged their agreements following Japan and the United States seeking to strengthen their links with the fourth member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad). The meeting included the formal announcement of a series of deals which range from $17.9 million skills package, an agreement to work together on critical minerals to a$35.7 million deal to develop “green steel” that can be produced without coal.

Two days following Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to New Delhi, and his commitment to invest an estimated 5 trillion yen in India (approx. $57 billion) came the Australian pledges. The two leaders are quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday in a joint statement, “They expressed their shared intention to realise JPY 5 trillion of public and private investment and financing from Japan to India in the next five years, to finance appropriate public and private projects of mutual interest,”

The Quad partnership between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States is a key pillar of our Indo-Pacific agenda. It is a diplomatic network that is committed to supporting an open, inclusive, and resilient region. More information on this can be found on here.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been condemned by Australia, the United States and Japan but India has remained neutral and abstained from voting several times at the United Nations, so the other pact members have begun a diplomatic effort to convince Mr Modi to take a tougher line on the war to hopefully send a message to China about the risk of aggression in Asia. One of the votes they abstained from was a motion at the Security Council on which China also abstained and which Russia vetoed.

Mr Modi did not mention Russia or Ukraine while Mr Kishida was visiting New Delhi, but rather stated, “Geopolitical developments are presenting a new set of challenges.” Mr Kishida criticised the invasion.

Mr Morrison’s opening remarks during the meeting stated a key issue in their talks was the war in Europe.

“While we are obviously distressed at the terrible situation in Europe, our focus, of course, is always very much on what’s occurring in the Indo-Pacific and making sure that those events could never occur here in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“I think our Quad leaders call recently… gave us the opportunity to discuss Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, but it also gave us the opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of that terrible event for our own region in the Indo-Pacific and the coercion and issues we face here.”

Mr Modi and his ministers have insisted the Quad is not a forum for cooperation on the war in Ukraine but rather is focussed on the Indo-Pacific. Other members of the pact have linked the invasion of Ukraine with concerns about China’s ambitions.

Sanctions were imposed on Russia by Japan, Australia and the US, and a message was sought to be sent to China against launching an invasion of Taiwan.

Australian agreements with India on trade and security on Monday night included stronger cooperation on “maritime issues” as well as the deployment of an Indian maritime patrol aircraft to Australia, as well as a “young officer exchange program” for personnel from each country’s defence forces.

The cooperation on critical minerals includes a $5.8 million initiative aimed at encouraging Indian investment in Australian mining projects. A separate $1.5 million will be put toward a program to encourage Indian mining companies to look at Australian projects. These are said to be vital to the production of high technology.

The agreements include a $25.2 million program on space cooperation, $28.1 million for a Centre for Australia-India Relations, $20.8 million for cultural partnerships and $4.3 million to support work on liquified natural gas supply between Australia, India and Bangladesh.

The announcements around the Monday night talks also included a taskforce to see if both countries could recognise the same education qualifications and an agreement with SBS on joint broadcasting with an Indian partner.

The National Gallery of Australia also formalised the return of artefacts to India.

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