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Navies of India, Australia ink document laying framework for deeper cooperation


NEW DELHI (PTI):  The Indian and Australian navies on Wednesday inked a document that lays the framework for talks between the two sides for further expanding cooperation to promote peace, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

It comes two-and-half weeks after India and Australia held the first 'two-plus-two' foreign and defence ministerial dialogue during which they vowed to further expand strategic and defence cooperation.

The two navies had on August 18 inked a document titled 'Joint Guidance' to expand cooperation.

"Consequent to the signing of 'Joint Guidance for the India-Australia Navy to Navy Relationship' document by the Chiefs of the Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy on August 18, the 'terms of reference for the conduct of Navy-to-Navy Talks between the Indian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy' was signed on September 29," the defence ministry said in a statement.

It said the document would be pivotal in consolidating the shared commitment to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

The inaugural Navy-to-Navy talks between the two sides were held in 2005.

Since then, the two nations and their navies have continued to grow closer at all levels with over a decade of bilateral talks, the ministry said.

"The document underpins the broad objective of deeper mutual understanding, trust and transparency, improved goodwill and understanding of each other's concerns and future directions, and provides detailed guidance for the conduct of Indian Navy-Royal Australian Navy talks," the ministry said.

"It also provides flexibility for implementation of separate agreements based on the specific outcomes of the talks," it added.

The defence and strategic ties between the two countries have been on an upswing.

In June last year, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows 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.

The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by India in November last year. The navies of the US and Japan were also part of it. Australia was part of the Malabar exercise this year as well.

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