The Australian government on Saturday announced a series of new initiatives to boost its education and cultural ties with India under the Maitri (friendship) programme. Speaking at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her discussion with Jaishankar on issues ranging from COVID-19 response to economic recovery, maritime security, supply chain resilience and cyber threats underlined the two countries shared common interests and values, including in democracy and in the rule of law.
She said the relationship between Australia and India had deep connections in trade and investment. “I'm also proud to announce today a series of new initiatives to boost the education and cultural ties between Australia and India. The initiatives are appropriately called the Maitri meaning friendship initiatives. Under the Maitri Scholars Programme, the Australian government will provide over 11 million dollars over four years to support Indian students to study at Australia's world-leading universities,” Payne said.
“The Maitri Fellowships Programme will provide 3.5 million dollars over four years to build links between future leaders, will support mid-career Australian and Indian professionals to collaborate on strategic research initiatives,” she said after her bilateral meeting with Jaishankar and attending a crucial meeting of Quad foreign ministers here on Friday. Jaishankar said he had “positive and productive” talks with his Australian counterpart Payne.
“Was an opportunity to assess progress on different fronts. A very useful exchange of perspectives on our respective regions. Welcome Australia's new Maitri initiatives involving scholars, professionals and cultural talent,” he said in a tweet. “India is a key partner for Australia & we share a vision for a resilient, inclusive & open region. Today Dr S Jaishankar & I exchanged views on the strategic outlook in the Indo-Pacific & reaffirmed our commitment to promoting regional peace, stability & security,” Payne tweeted.
Noting that while the relationship between Australia and India has deep connections in trade and investment, the minister said the Australian government will also provide over 6 million Australian dollars over four years to support cultural exchanges and boost the role of the creative industries in the two countries. The Maitri programme is a strong positive for the education sector in Australia, Payne said and announced the establishment of the Australia India Infrastructure Forum.
"Like the other parts of the relationship between Australia and India, which are many and varied. I look forward to seeing the Maitre programme and the Australia India Infrastructure Forum grow in the coming years,” Payne said.
With PTI Inputs