I visited New Delhi and Mumbai this week for the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with my Indian counterpart, Defence Minister A K Antony.
In New Delhi, I met with senior Indian officials, including Minister for Home Affairs Chidambaram, National Security Advisor Menon and the Chiefs of Navy, Army and Air Force.
Australia-India defence cooperation occurs across a range of activities, including ship visits and professional exchanges.
Minister Antony and I agreed India and Australia should take further steps to build on our Strategic Partnership, under the framework of the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation. Ministers’ committed to progress a number of new bilateral defence initiatives:
• Australian and Indian officials will work towards establishing a formal bilateral maritime exercise.
• Australia and India will convene a 1.5 Track Defence Strategic Dialogue in 2012.
• Defence Minister Antony will visit Australia in 2012.
We agreed to strengthen military to military interaction across the Navy, Army and Air Force, including with the convening of annual Defence Policy Talks.
While in New Delhi, I laid a wreath at the India Gate (Amar Jawan Jyoti) in New Delhi.
The India Gate is an important memorial built in commemoration of more than 90 000 Indian soldiers and foreign nationals who were killed during World War I.
Among those commemorated is Sister Letitia Gladys Moreton, an Australian Army Nurse who served in 1916 at the Number 2 General Hospital in Quetta, then part of India.
I also inspected an Indian Military Honour Guard at the South Block Government building.
Today in Mumbai I visited the Headquarters Western Naval Command. I will also address the Asia Society on Australia’s and India’s efforts to build our Strategic Partnership.
Imagery can be downloaded at http://images.defence.gov.au/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5003&search=1112...
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