Today in Canberra I conducted a formal bilateral Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with India’s Minister of Defence, Mr A. K. Antony.
Minister Antony arrived in Australia on Tuesday 4 June as part of the first ever official visit to Australia by an Indian Defence Minister.
Australia and India have a long history of defence-to-defence and military-to-military cooperation, stretching back to the Gallipoli campaign and encompassing World War II and the Korean War.
Australia’s contemporary bilateral defence-to-defence and military-to-military cooperation with India occurs under the framework of the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation, which was issued by the Prime Ministers of Australia and India in 2009.
Australia and India also cooperate in a range of regional fora, including the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim ? Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR?ARC). Australia will be the Chair of IONS next year and host its Conclave of Chiefs in Perth in March 2014. India is currently the Chair of the IOR-ARC and Australia the next Chair.
The 2013 Australian Defence White Paper outlines the profound strategic changes occurring as economic, strategic and military weight shift to the Indo-Pacific region. India and Australia have a shared interest in helping to address these strategic changes, including through defence collaboration.
Today’s Defence Ministers’ Dialogue in Canberra was a timely opportunity to review progress in the bilateral defence relationship and to examine areas for further collaboration.
During today’s Dialogue, Minister Antony and I agreed to practical measures that will further enhance bilateral defence cooperation between Australia and India. We agreed:
- to continue to have regular bilateral Defence Ministers’ Meetings;
- to promote exchanges between the defence establishments and the Armed Forces of both sides, including through the regular conduct of the Defence Policy Dialogue, Armed Forces Staff Talks and professional military exchanges;
- to continue ongoing bilateral Naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between our Navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015;
- to continue to cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region bilaterally and through various multilateral fora including the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus);
- to enhance Indian Ocean cooperation, including through the framework and priorities of the IOR-ARC and the IONS; and
- to promote the sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences through participation in training courses in each other’s military training institutions.
In addition, we noted the contributions made by the Indian and ANZAC forces during the Gallipoli campaign and agreed to commemorate their contributions by launching a publication during the Gallipoli Centenary commemorations in 2015.
Minister Antony also accepted my invitation for Indian naval ship participation in the International Fleet Review that will occur in Sydney in October this year.
Minister Antony and I issued a joint statement outlining the outcomes of today’s Australia-India Defence Ministers’ Dialogue, which is available at: http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/2013/06/05/minister-for-defence-and-indias-minister-of-defence-joint-statement-visit-of-mr-a-k-antony-defence-minister-of-india-to-australia-4-5-june-2013.
Following the Dialogue, I accompanied Minister Antony in a call on Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Minister Antony also held a joint meeting with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Julie Bishop MP, and the Opposition Shadow Minister for Defence, Senator David Johnston.
This morning, Minister Antony and I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and toured the Australian War Memorial with its Director, Dr Brendan Nelson.
Prior to today’s events in Canberra, I hosted Minister Antony on Tuesday in Perth, Australia’s ‘Indian Ocean capital’.
While in Perth, Minister Antony and I laid a wreath at the State War Memorial in Kings Park. I also hosted a reception for Minister Antony, which was attended by prominent members of Western Australian and Indian academic, business and community organisations.
Minister Smith's office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999