Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Thursday that his country will host Exercise Malabar, a naval drill involving Australia, India, the US and Japan. Speaking onboard indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant here, he also said that India will for the first time participate in Australia’s multinational Talisman Sabre exercise.
The visiting PM remarked that more drills, operations, and discussions between India and Australia took place last year than ever before. He claimed that the first deployment of Maritime Patrol Aircraft to one another’s territory marked a significant improvement in the bilateral ties between India and Australia.
“In November alone we conducted increasingly complex and sophisticated exercises in Indo-Pacific Endeavour and Exercise Austrahind,” Albanese said. “I am pleased to announce formally, aboard the magnificent INS Vikrant, that later this year Australia will host Exercise Malabar for the first time and India will – also for the first time – participate in Australia’s Talisman Sabre exercise,” he said.
Albanese was received onboard Vikrant by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar with a Guard of Honour. The Australian prime minister 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 added.
According to Albanese, there has never been a time in the histories of the two countries when there has been such a strong strategic alignment. The India-Australia alliance is growing in strategic significance. The bilateral defence and security collaboration has never been busier or more successful, and 2023 will be “busier than ever” in this regard, he continued.
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 and ensuring the Indo-Pacific is open, inclusive and prosperous.
Significantly, China’s assertiveness has been growing across the Indo-Pacific area. On Prime Minister Modi’s proposal, the Australia-India General Rawat Defence Officer Exchange Program, Albanese said it will ensure that the militaries of the two nations build the familiarity and trust necessary for a strong and lasting relationship.