"New Model Of Conducting Business": PM On Virtual Summit With Australia PM

The two countries are also expected to finalise a landmark agreement for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support in the summit besides sealing a number of other pacts, officials said.

The two leaders are expected to explore ways to expand cooperation in areas of trade and defence. (File)

New Delhi:

The bilateral "Virtual Summit" has set a new model of conducting business, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, shortly after his online summit with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Various issues covering the "entire expanse" of India-Australia relationship were discussed during the meet, he said.

The two leaders discussed a range of issues including trade, defence, education as well as the COVID-19 crisis. The summit was held after Morrison had to cancel his trip to India in January, 2020 due to the devastating bushfires season in Australia.

In his opening remarks at the bilateral "Virtual Summit" -- the first such summit between PM Modi and a foreign leader, the Prime Minister said he believed that it is the "perfect time and perfect opportunity" to further strengthen the relationship between India and Australia. "India-Australia relations have deepened. And this depth comes from our shared values, shared interests, shared geography and shared objectives," PM Modi said in his opening remarks.

"We have immense possibilities to make our friendship stronger," PM Modi said, adding: "How our relations become a ''factor of stability'' for our region and for the world, how we work together for global good, all these aspects need to be considered."

The prime minister said India was committed to expand its relations with Australia on a wider and faster pace, adding that strategic partnership was important not only for the two countries, but also for the Indo-Pacific region and the world, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

PM Modi said that the Indian government has decided to view this crisis as an opportunity. "In India, a process of comprehensive reforms has been initiated in almost all areas. It will soon see results at the ground level," he added.

In his remarks, Scott Morrison complemented PM Modi for his "constructive and very positive" role including at the G-20 role in pushing for a concerted global approach in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. The Australian Prime Minister called India a "trusted friend of Australia" and a "pioneer in technology". "India has been a positive force in these trying times and our relationship with India is a natural one. The time has come for broader and deeper ties. India has been a pioneer in technology - an area that is key today and will be so in future," he said.

The Australian Prime Minister also promised PM Modi that he will prepare Gujarati khichdi in his kitchen before their next meeting in person.

The virtual summit was wrapped up with "Samosa-Khichdi'' diplomacy. "I thank you for the samosas....we had a lot of fun with it over the weekend," Mr Morrison said, referring to him making the samosas and tweeting about it.

"Sunday ScoMosas with mango chutney, all made from scratch - including the chutney," the Australian Prime Minister had tweeted and tagged PM Modi.

PM Modi was quick to respond and said on Twitter.

The two prime ministers have met on four occasions during the last one-and-half years.

While attending the G20 Summit in Osaka in Japan last year, the Australian Prime Minister tweeted a selfie that he took with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Kithana acha he Modi! #G20OsakaSummit," Mr Morrison had tweeted the picture in which PM Modi was seen in a brown jacket over white attire. Both of them are smiling.

On April 6th, they two leader had a telephonic conversation in which ongoing COVID-19, including facilitation and support for citizens stranded in each other's country, was discussed, the ministry said. Scott Morrison also spoke highly about the contribution of the Indian community, including Indian students, to the Australian society, it added.

The relationship between the two nations was upgraded to a 'Strategic Partnership'' level in 2009. Since then, both countries have expanded their cooperation in a range of key areas.

In its White Paper on Foreign Policy un 2017, Australia recognised India as the "pre-eminent maritime power among Indian Ocean countries" and a "front-rank partner of Australia".

The bilateral economic engagement too has been on an upswing in the last few years. According to official data, the trade between the two countries was around USD 21 billion in 2018-19.

Australia's investment in India is about USD 10.74 billion whereas India's total investment in Australia is USD 10.45 billion.

Both India and Australia have developed an understanding of each other's perspectives on regional and global issues, the foreign ministry said. "We have a shared approach to a free, open, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific."

In the last few years, both the countries have been focusing on expanding maritime cooperation.

Australia has supported India's global initiatives such as International Solar Alliance (ISA), CDRI and Indo-Pacific Oceans' Initiative (IPOI). Australia supports India's membership of an expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC). In the recent past, Australia supported India's membership for Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement and favours India's membership of NSG.

Australia has been supportive of India's position on cross-border terrorism and on asking Pakistan to take meaningful action against terrorist groups operating from its soil.

Australia also co-sponsored the UNSC resolution to declare Azhar Masood a global terrorist.