Prime Minister Modi’s Australia visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the Australian Parliament on 18 November 2014, said Australia will not be at the periphery of India’s vision but at the centre of its thought, as he called for closer bilateral security cooperation and a comprehensive global strategy to tackle the menace of terrorism.

Mr Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister of India to address the Australian parliament.  Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was long due that a leader of world’s largest democracy addressed the House.

Following the bilateral talks between the two leaders five pacts—on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, tourism, and Arts and Culture—were signed. The two sides also sought an early conclusion of negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and a closure on the civil nuclear deal.

India and Australia also established a framework for bilateral security cooperation as they stepped up their defence collaboration for advancing regional peace and combating terrorism among other challenges. The action plan states that there will be an annual summit and foreign policy exchanges and coordination.

The plan includes annual meeting of Prime Ministers, including on the margins of multilateral meetings, foreign Ministers’ framework dialogue, senior officials’ talks led by India’s Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs and the Secretary of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The action plan also talks about East Asia talks between External Affairs senior officials, defence policy planning and coordination. It also calls for exploring defence research and development cooperation, including through visits by Australian and Indian defence material delegations and efforts to foster joint industry links.

In order to tackle the new security challenges, Mr Modi sought closer security cooperation, a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations, a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists, willingness to empower States that will fight them, a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and every effort to delink religion and terrorism.

Prime Minister Modi also called for support for the process of economic integration across the region and an open global trading system that remains integrated. He highlighted the fact that India’s development and growth provides a long term opportunity for Australia and it has immense opportunities in the field of agriculture, food processing, mining, infrastructure, finance, technology and energy.

Mr Modi, during his address, also talked about Australian novelist and lawyer Jang Lang, who helped Rani Laxmibai against the British East India Company.

The Australian Prime Minister said that a new free trade agreement between the two countries is also on cards. Highlighting the growing economic and military prowess of India, Mr Abbott lamented the fact that the business between India and Australia was only limited to $15 billion.

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