Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Thursday embarked on India's first homegrown aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, the Navy said. He became the first foreign prime minister to come on board the carrier and was received by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar with a Guard of Honour.
"The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity. And we are working together to ensure the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous," Albanese said on Twitter. While he was on board, he met service personnel from the Indian Navy who have undertaken exercises with Australia.
The Indian Ocean is central to both countries’ security and prosperity. And we are working together to ensure the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous. pic.twitter.com/n1nISFyFSF— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) March 9, 2023
In a major step forward in the bilateral relationship, India and Australia undertook Maritime Patrol Aircraft deployments to each other's territories for the first time, he said. “In November alone we conducted increasingly complex and sophisticated exercises in Indo-Pacific Endeavour and Exercise Austrahind," Albanese said.
He also announced that Australia will host the naval Exercise Malabar for the first time later this year, bringing together the Australian Navy, Indian Navy, US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
He further said his visit reflected his government's commitment to place India at the heart of Australia's approach to the Indo-Pacific and beyond. “But arguably, what lifts defence relationships to new levels is the resolve and foresight of those who see the relationship not only for what it is, but what it could be. Prime Minister Modi is one such person,” he said.
Strategic importance of the India-Australia partnership is increasing and there has never been a point in both countries' histories where they have had such a strong strategic alignment, Albanese added.
Both countries depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific for trade and economic well-being, Albanese noted, adding that India and Australia share an unwavering commitment to upholding the rules-based international order.
Earlier today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Anthony Albanese reached the Narendra Modi stadium in Gujarat and took a round of the massive sports arena on a golf car before the start of the fourth Test match between India and Australia. Modi and Albanese handed over Test caps to their respective team captains Rohit Sharma and Steve Smith.
(With inputs from PTI)