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PM Modi, Scott Morrison push for ‘open and inclusive’ Indo-Pacific during 2nd India-Australia summit

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Underling the “remarkable growth” in the relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held the second India-Australian virtual summit with his Australian counter Scott Morrison.

PM Modi told Morrison that the cooperation between India and Australia is increasing at “rapid pace”, especially in areas of critical minerals and renewable energy. He said this reflects New Delhi and Canberra’s commitment to “free, open and inclusive” Indo-Pacific region.

“In our last virtual summit, we had given our relationship the form of a comprehensive strategic partnership. I’m happy that today we’re establishing the mechanism of annual summit between the two nations,” PM Modi said.

“This will prepare a structural system for regular review of our relations. In past few years, our relations have seen remarkable growth. Trade and investment, defence and security, education and innvoation, science and technology – in all these sectors we’ve very close cooperation,” he added.

The Prime Minister also thanked his Australia counterpart for returning the 29 ‘smuggled’ antiquities and artefacts to India. These antiquities, according to the central government, come from different time periods, with the earliest dating to 9-10 century CE.

“I thank you for initiative to return the Indian antiquities. Antiquities sent by you include hundreds of years old artifacts and photos that were illegally taken out of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and other states. On behalf of all Indians, I thank you,” PM Modi said.

Russia must be held accountable’

In his remarks at the summit, Morrison spoke about the Russia-Ukraine war and said that the Kremlin must be held accountable for the loss of lives in Ukraine. He also said that last month’s Quad meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the “implications and consequences” of the developments for the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure and I think our Quad leaders call recently gave us the opportunity to discuss Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine,” the Australian PM said. “But it also gave us the opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of that terrible event for our own region in the Indo-Pacific and the coercion and the issues that we face here.”

Russia has recieved severe criticism from across the world for its invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24. However, India at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has abstrained from voting in resolution against Russia. On Sunday, Australia had said that the Quad countries have accepted India’s position on the Russia-Ukraine war.

“The Quad countries have accepted India’s position. We understand that each country has a bilateral relationship and it is clear from the comments of the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) and Prime Minister Modi himself that he has used his contacts to call for the end of the conflict and no country will be unhappy with that,” said Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell.PM Modi, Scott Morrison push for 'open and inclusive' Indo-Pacific during 2nd India-Australia summit

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