India and Australia Boost Defense Ties and Bond Over Cricket

PM Modi welcomes Albanese to India at a cricket match. New announcements expected on critical minerals on Friday.
Anthony Albanese, center left, with Narendra Modi, ahead of the India v Australia 4th Test match at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, on March 8.
Anthony Albanese, center left, with Narendra Modi, ahead of the India v Australia 4th Test match at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, on March 8.

India and Australia vowed to strengthen security cooperation as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned on the charm to welcome his counterpart to the South Asian country for a first official visit.

“The Indo-Pacific, maritime security and defense cooperation,” were discussed, Modi said in New Delhi Friday, after formal talks with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. “Establishing dependable and trust worthy supply chains and renewable energy was another area of focus in our discussions,” he added.

Earlier, Albanese had announced new military exercises to be held with Indian forces in a speech on board the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier Thursday. For the first time, India will participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercises, along with the US.

The two leaders also “discussed the increasingly uncertain global security environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India security partnership to address shared challenges,” Albanese said.

The Australian leader had earlier described India as a “top tier security partner” for his country.

The ramp up in defense ties between Australia and India will help strengthen the so-called Quad, a group of democracies banding together to counter China’s growing influence. Japan and US are also members of this alliance.

Albanese’s visit has included two days of highly-choreographed pomp and ceremony to celebrate his trip to India, the first by an Australian leader since 2017. Shortly after arriving, Albanese took part in Holi celebrations to mark the start of spring, getting his face daubed with color and being showered with marigold petals.

On Thursday, before his trip to the INS Vikrant, Albanese traveled to meet Modi in Ahmedabad to watch the start of the fourth cricket test match between India and Australia. The two leaders entered the stadium, named after Modi, on a glitzy gold chariot to rapturous applause.

The Indian prime minister has often sought to use foreign leader visits to boost international visibility for Ahmedabad — the largest city of his home state Gujarat. Modi has hosted former President Donald Trump as well as Japanese and Israeli leaders in the city in a push to offer an alternative view to the city’s association with deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002 which occurred while he was the state’s chief minister.

Albanese is scheduled to head directly from New Delhi to the US where he will meet with President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce the plans for Australia’s fleet of nuclear submarines, built under the Aukus agreement.

(Updates with details.)

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