Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen and good afternoon. Thank you Marise for your words, it’s been a great honour for Minister Payne and myself to be here in the distinguished company of Minister Jaishankar. Thank you very much also to Minister Singh; our two good friends and two wonderful people for the relationship.
I too want to start today by acknowledging the 20-year anniversary of 9/11 and acknowledge that many people will still be suffering the loss of a loved one and let it always be a reminder to us of the human cost of the barbaric acts of terrorism, which, as Minister Payne points out, we see not only in the United States, but in our own countries and indeed in regions across the world. And it's part of the reason why this relationship is so important and why we rededicate ourselves to the values that we share, and that was reflected in the discussions today.
Our discussions have been incredibly productive and from a year on since the Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Australia and India's defence relationship is at an historic high.
It has been a great pleasure, Minister Singh, to spend time with you, and I thank you very much for your engagement. I want to acknowledge your dedication in advancing the Indo-Australian Defence and Security Partnership, and I too am equally committed to this partnership and to this endeavour.
India is a rising Indo Pacific great power and an increasingly significant security partner for Australia, particularly in the maritime domain. We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo Pacific for our trade and economic wellbeing, and we share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order and ensuring the Indo Pacific is open, inclusive, and indeed prosperous.
As our nations contend with an increasingly complex and uncertain region, the friendship and partnership between our two nations is essential. Essential for helping to ensure our region is secure and stable and in this vein, I've been incredibly pleased to see the growth in joint exercises and activities between our armed forces, despite the challenges of COVID-19.
As we speak, ships from our Navies are exercising together off the coast of Australia's Northern Territory as part of AUSINDEX, our two nations’ biannual bilateral naval exercise. Furthermore, we continue to collaborate in other areas like defence science and technology and importantly, cybersecurity. Our mutual logistics support arrangement enabled Australia to airlift oxygen to India and support its response to the Pandemic. Such activities are paving the way for deeper and more sophisticated operational cooperation between our two nations.
Today, Minister Singh and I agreed to several initiatives to further our strong defence relationship and to drive greater practical engagement between our armed forces. Australia will invite India to participate in Exercise Talisman Sabre and to continue to support Indo Pacific endeavour as we saw earlier this week.
Australia will continue to participate in India's Exercise Malabar with the United States and Japan. Australia and India have agreed to reinforce each other's maritime domain awareness through increased information sharing and indeed, practical cooperation.
And finally, Australia will increase its defence diplomatic representation here in New Delhi, a very significant and historic step to support closer coordination on Indian Pacific maritime security and greater information sharing.
This meeting was a vital opportunity to discuss practical ways to reinforce our comprehensive strategic partnership, deepen our interoperability, and bolster our defence cooperation. I look forward very much to continued close engagement with Minister Singh. I thank the Indian Government for the warm hospitality that's been extended to Marise and I, and I thank you for your friendship, which continues to grow on each of these occasions.