Transcript of the Virtual Meeting:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: Kem Cho from Brisbane, Prime Minister Modi. Thank you for joining us today for our Virtual Annual Leaders’ Meeting. I very much wish we could be together with you in person, but that day I hope, will soon come.
I hear you’ve just hosted our dear friend, Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, and I hope you celebrated a joyful Holi on Friday.
I’m very glad to have this Virtual Meeting to drive our bilateral cooperation to new heights, but you are already ascending those new heights and I congratulate you on your five election victories in the, in the states recently, particularly in Goa. That must have been a tremendous result for you, and I congratulate you.
Our meeting today is, of course, set against the very distressing backdrop of the war in Europe, which must never happen in our own region, and I very much want to thank you for the partnership that we have. While we are obviously distressed at the terrible situation in Europe, our focus, of course, is always very much on what is occurring in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that those events could never occur here in the Indo-Pacific.
Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure, and I think our Quad Leaders’ call recently, which 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 the issues that we face here. The tragic loss of life underlies the importance, of course, of holding Russia to account. But cooperation between like-minded liberal democracies is key to an open and inclusive and resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific, and I welcome your leadership within the Quad to keeping us focused on those important issues.
Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, though, reflects the ambition that we share and we hold for our relationship, and the pace and scale of that cooperation, since we lifted ties back in 2020, has been remarkable. But I am ambitious, as I know you are, to make it even closer, particularly when it comes to our economic cooperation, which I hope we’re able to advance further today.
We’ve made great progress in defence, maritime cooperation, science, technology, clean energy as well, which is something I know that Australia can work together closely with India on, and I’ll be delighted today to announce some more initiatives that build on that foundation towards our post-pandemic world. Science, technology, energy and especially critical minerals and rare earths, and we’ll redouble our efforts, as I said, on our interim Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement to unlock new opportunities and benefits for both our economies. It will bring us closer to a full agreement as soon as I hope we can achieve that.
Prime Minister, it’s wonderful to see you, Narendra, and I invite you to share your opening remarks.
Also read: Morrison Modi catch up over the phone
The Honourable Shri Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India: Scott, good afternoon. Thank you for your good wishes for Holi and also your congratulations for my election victory. I’m very grateful to you for that. On behalf of all Indians, I would like to express my condolences for the loss of lives and property due to the floods in Queensland and New South Wales.
During our last Virtual Summit, we elevated our relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, and I’m pleased that today we are establishing an Annual Summit mechanism between our two countries. This will give us a framework for regularly reviewing relations. It will give us a structured framework for that.
Excellency, in the last few years we have made significant progress in our relations. We have very close cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, defence and security, education and innovation, science and technology. In all of these areas we have very close cooperation. There are many other sectors as well in which we have practical cooperation between us. For example, critical minerals, water management, new and renewable energy and technology, COVID-19 related research, and our cooperation has been moving forward at a fast pace in all these areas.
I welcome the announcement of the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technologies in Bangalore. It is essential that we have better cooperation between us in the areas of cyber and critical and emerging technologies. As countries that share similar values, it is our responsibility to adopt appropriate global standards for these emerging technologies.
Excellency, we have made significant progress in our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, CECA, in a very short time, and we have made great progress and I am very sure that we will reach an agreement very soon on the remaining issues, as well. The quick conclusion of CECA will definitely give a boost to our economic [inaudible] and economic security.
There is also good cooperation between us in the Quad framework. Our cooperation under the Quad demonstrates our commitment towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The success of Quad is essential for regional and global stability.
Excellency, I would like to especially thank you for the initiative to return ancient Indian artefacts. These and the artefacts that you have sent back, these include statues and paintings that are hundreds of years old and that have been illegally taken out of various Indian states, including Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. So on behalf of all Indian citizens, I express my gratitude to you for this initiative. You have given back these artefacts to us and now we can return them to the places where they belong. On behalf of all Indian citizens, I once again express my heartfelt gratitude to you for this initiative.
Australia’s women’s cricket team has performed very well in the Cricket World Cup. My congratulations to you for that. Australia won the match on Saturday, but there are still more matches to be played. My very best wishes to the teams of both countries.
Excellency, I would like to now thank you once again for the opportunity to exchange thoughts with you. I’m very pleased about that. I would like to now thank our friends from the media and close the open session. And after that, after a few moments, I would like to share my thoughts with you on the next agenda item. And I would like to request all my friends from the media to leave us so that we can continue with the rest of the program. Thank you very much to all our friends from the media.
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