India, Australia sign accord to boost military cooperation
Iran Press TV
Thursday, 04 June 2020 10:34 AM
India and Australia have reached an agreement to grant access to each other's military bases for purported military cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
The accord, aimed at boosting logistical support for joint military exchanges and drills, was signed during a virtual summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on Thursday.
"We share democratic values, the rule of law, freedoms, and respect for international institutions. When these are being challenged, we need to strengthen our cooperation," Modi said in the summit.
Morrison told Modi, "We are committed to an open, inclusive, prosperous Indo-Pacific, and India's role in that region will be critical in the years ahead… it's time for our relationship to go broader and to go deeper."
The agreement, according to sources familiar with the bilateral talks, allows military ships and aircraft to refuel and access maintenance facilities during maritime exercises.
New Delhi has a similar pact with the United States that is widely seen as part of broader cooperation to counter China's growing economic and military weight in the region.
There was no mention during the Thursday summit of whether Australia would join India later this year in an annual naval drill held with the United States and Japan in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The US military regularly conducts what it refers to as "freedom of navigation" missions and air patrols over the South China Sea, which is also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, and others and acts as gateway to trillions of dollars in maritime trade each year.
China has repeatedly warned the US to roll back its growing presence and stop its provocative patrols near Chinese islands in the sea.
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