Melbourne: Embarking on his first visit to India, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday said he was keen to further deepen Canberra’s multifaceted relationship with New Delhi at a time of extraordinary growth and dynamism, especially in areas of trade, security and people-to-people links.
Albanese is visiting India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will be accompanied by a delegation of ministers and business leaders during his four-day trip.
He will arrive in Ahmedabad on Wednesday and will visit Mumbai on Thursday before arriving in New Delhi later in the day, External Affairs Ministry said in a statement in New Delhi.
“This trip demonstrates our commitment to deepening our links with India, and to being a force for stability and growth in our region. We have a historic opportunity to strengthen our relationship with India, at a time of extraordinary growth and dynamism in our region,” Albanese tweeted.
He said Australia is a better place because of its large, diverse Indian-Australian community.
“Australia and India have a rich friendship, underpinned by our common interests, our shared democratic values, the bonds between our people, and an affectionate but fierce sporting rivalry,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart Albanese are scheduled to watch the first day of the fourth Test between Australia and India at the Narendra Modi Stadium at Motera in the city on March 9.
This will be Albanese’s first visit to India in his current role.
“This is an important visit. It will be my fourth meeting with Prime Minister Modi. One of the first things I did as Prime Minister was travel to the Quad Leaders Meeting in Tokyo on May 24 of last year. Australia and India are important partners. We share common values. We are both vibrant democracies. We have an interest in improving our economic relations,” the prime minister said in a statement.
Terming the visit an “enormous opportunity” for Australia, he said India is currently Australia’s sixth largest trading partner but can be “much larger” in the future.
“The truth is that India, along with Indonesia, will grow to be the third and fourth largest economies in the world in coming years. That presents an incredible opportunity for Australia. And during this visit I will be giving at least seven speeches over the coming days, talking about the opportunities which are there, to have increased people-to-people relations, to educational transfers, increased two-way investment, increased engagement between our business communities,” he said.
Albanese said Australia shares a multifaceted relationship with India.
It is one of the people-to-people relations, the growing diaspora that is there in Australia is an asset for Australia, he said, asserting that people-to-people links are very important.
“It’s also about our trade, but it’s also about our security relationship. Operation Malabar will be hosted by Australia for the first time. It will be important, and those security relationships are also something that I will be having discussions with Prime Minister Modi on,” he said.
Albanese said he will attend the G20 meeting when it is hosted in India and will host the Quad leaders meeting in Australia in the first half of this year with Prime Minister Modi, his Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and US President Joe Biden.
He said Prime Minister Modi, like the other leaders of the G20, is a strong supporter of shifting the energy focus, including in India, and noted that is essential to lower emissions and is important on issues like pollution in India.
“We will be talking about the new industries and opportunities that Australia has, whether it be the provision of lithium and other materials that are important for the shift to renewables.
“The growth of areas like green hydrogen presents enormous opportunities. India is a driver of new technology and innovation. And there is a great scope for Australia and India to cooperate as we both transition for clean energy from an assist on trade,” he said.
India and Australia share warm and friendly relations based on common values and democratic principles. The Strategic Partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020 which has been strengthened and deepened through frequent high-level exchanges and enhanced cooperation across sectors.
Prime Minister Albanese’s visit is expected to provide further momentum to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
After travelling to India, Albanese will visit the United States for a bilateral meeting with President Biden.
“I look forward to the continuing engagement that I have with the US Administration I’ll be meeting with President Biden in the United States,” he said.