Bilateral meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister
Marise Payne: Welcome, again, and may I say what an absolute pleasure it is to be hosting you here in Australia this week. And you have been very busy yourself. I understand you’ve been to the War Memorial this morning here in Melbourne, and we very much appreciate that.
Can I start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that we’re meeting on here – the Wurundjeri people – and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
I enjoyed very much our visit to the MCG last night. There’s a fabulous photograph that my chief of staff has just shown me which has quite quizzical looks on the faces of Secretary Blinken and Minister Hayashi as you and I are doing a pincer movement on cricket instruction on either side of the pitch. So I think we had great success in teaching them about the game they play in heaven.
We are very much looking forward to hosting today our annual Australia-India Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue and our inaugural India-Australia Cyber Framework Dialogue. As you mark your 75th anniversary of independence this year, there are many highlights, I think, for our bilateral relationship.
Yesterday, and our discussions this week really have affirmed for me that as Indo-Pacific partners we share the closest of visions for a resilient, inclusive and open region and, frankly, the relationship between our countries has never been so deep and close and relevant for our region.
I say often, Jai, the fact that we were able to announce the Australia-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June of 2020 in the middle of a pandemic in Prime Minister Modi’s first virtual bilateral leaders meeting says a great deal about the work that we have been able to do together -of course on the foundations of that done by many of our colleagues over the years, but we have been able to do together.
Last year we saw the Prime Minister Morrison at the Bengaluru Tech Summit announce the new Australia-India Centre of Excellence for Critical and Emerging Technology. We are very much looking forward to opening our fifth post in India, our consulate-general in Bengaluru. And these are all marks of the progress and growth in our relationship.
Our focus today, as it was yesterday, is very much on issues and challenges facing the region – on COVID-19 response and recovery, on maritime security, on the supply chain resilience and, of course, on cyber threats. We also have our deep connections on trade and investment. I hear very good reports out of India yesterday of the meetings between Minister Tehan and Minister Goyal and progress on our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement.
I think you mentioned to me a few weeks ago that we had an opportunity with our Trade Minister colleagues and with the support of Foreign Ministers to unlock new trade and investment opportunities, and that will be a very powerful message about economic recovery and about the developing relationship.
We also have the MOU on tourism signed in New Delhi overnight. And on the 21st of February, Australia will open to all visa holders. And so that will be very welcome to see many more Indian visitors coming to Australia.
There’s a lot to discuss today, and I look forward to doing that. Thank you.
S Jaishankar: Thank you very much, Marise. Let me begin by appreciating that warm welcome [indistinct] exceptional [indistinct]. So productive [indistinct] at the end of the day and then I had to work backwards [indistinct]. But I think we made a good [indistinct] of what the day was like yesterday. [Indistinct] but today as we look at the bilateral relationship it is, I think, important to understand and appreciate the fact that the bilateral relationships of the four countries are actually really a combination of the Quad. And in Australia’s case I think the elevation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for us is [indistinct] not just a [indistinct]. It’s an attempt to capture the deepening [indistinct]. And the Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue [indistinct]. Attend to the relationship in time and make sure that [indistinct] not something that [indistinct].
Until I came here, I was feeling a bit guilty because you’ve been to India three times. And I’ve been trying to come down for the last two years, but things have gotten in the way.
Marise Payne: I know.
S Jaishankar: [Indistinct] and so I’m really pleased that we can be here, and also that we are doing the inaugural Foreign Ministers Cyber Framework Dialogue because a lot of our concerns too are [indistinct] it’s important and a good thing that we come together to deal with the [indistinct].
And I [indistinct] the work prepared for what we hope to see [indistinct].
We would have very much liked to have [indistinct]. I you know this time the timing may not be particularly [indistinct] but I will still hope that in some form we would have your participation [indistinct] to hopefully create a solution.
I’d also like to share with you [indistinct] December [indistinct] foreign policy [indistinct] former Prime Minister and also the Foreign Minister and I actually joined [indistinct]. And this year we had [indistinct] strategic community in India [indistinct] focusing more upon our relationship and both our relationships need to [indistinct].
We are meeting at a time where there are [indistinct] of consequence around the world but [indistinct] but also a shared desire and determination [indistinct] to ensure that [indistinct]. I look forward to a prosperous and comprehensive relationship. Thank you.
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