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Opening Statement by the External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar at the Joint Press Conference with the Foreign Minister of Australia

Posted on: October 10, 2022 | Back | Print

Thank you very much and let me begin by, first of all thanking you really for a very nice welcome because when I came in to Canberra yesterday, I saw the old Parliament building lit up in our national colours. And, you know, there's nothing can be more touching than a gesture like that. And it wasn't a one-off. Because, as we celebrated our 75th anniversary of Independence, in fact, we saw that in Australia, across the country at different iconic sites, you celebrated along with us, and I was particularly struck by the image of the Sydney Opera House in our tricolour. So, I think it was a good gesture which spoke of a very warm sentiment, I appreciate that.

So as Minister Wong said, we've had really a very, very useful, very productive, very comfortable discussion today and part of it is really the fact that we've been meeting quite often, I mean, I think I met you literally on your first day on the job, in Tokyo for the Quad, but since then, it has been Bali G20; it has been the Phnom Penh East Asia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting; we saw each other in New York, both bilaterally and for trilateral meetings as well. So, we've had this now practice of continuing conversations and good exchanges, as we really work to strengthen our bilateral relations and see how we can shape a better region.

So, today's meeting was what we call the Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue. It’s, I think, the 13th of that series and, you know, we spoke about a whole lot of issues - trade and economy, education, defence and security, clean energy. And among the many agreements and understandings we reached, were really the fact that it's in our mutual interest to expand our diplomatic footprint in each other's countries. So, we would certainly welcome Australia doing so in India and look forward to doing the same in Australia, at some point of time. There were some issues, I think which we see a great potential in terms of giving a greater, I would say, quality to our bilateral partnership. One of them is a proposal that's been under discussion for an understanding on mobility, on mobility of talent and skills, how we can grow education and what we could do particularly bearing in mind, India's New National Education Policy. We certainly would like to see Australia, which is one of our major partners in education, also having a stronger presence in India, and that's something which our Prime Ministers had discussed as well when they had met in Tokyo.

We are very encouraged to see that the economic cooperation and trade agreement that was finalized earlier this year is moving towards its ratification and entry into force. That's a very good development. We also note that steps are being taken to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement because that was also a bit of a challenge to growing our business. And then we really looked at areas like critical minerals, cyber, new and renewable energy and looked at, in a sense, integrating a lot of what our colleagues have been doing over the last few months and when we did that, it was I think very revealing that, in fact, since June this year six of my cabinet colleagues have actually visited Australia, among them the Minister for coal and mines, for renewable energy, for education, for our water resources, our home minister. And we've also seen that the Australian Deputy PM and Defence Minister as well as the Deputy Premier of Western Australia and the Premier of New South Wales have been to India with business delegations.

So, overall, the sense has really been that, you know, the relationship has kept growing. We are, you know, looking at finding ways of sort of taking it to higher levels. When it comes to the global situation, we had a good discussion. We haven't completed it. I think there's still some bits we're going to be doing at lunch but we did discuss the Ukraine conflict and its repercussions, the Indo-Pacific of what, you know, the progress in Quad, G20 issues, our trilaterals, the UN, some things in the IAEA, climate finance, Sustainable Development Goals. So, you can see, it has been, a pretty, sort of broad ranging discussions and, you know, I think the underpinning of that really is that, as liberal democracies, we both believe in a rules-based international order, in freedom of navigation in international waters, in promoting connectivity, growth and security for all, and as Minister Wong said, in ensuring that countries make sovereign choices on matters that are important to them.

Over lunch, I expect that we will be taking up a few other issues. I would like to share with her our perspectives on the Indian subcontinent. Particularly, I would like to discuss some issues on terrorism, on countering terrorism. I look forward to hearing on this region from her and I think, would just conclude by saying that we will be taking over the chairmanship of the G20 at the end of this year and as a member of G20, I think for us Australia's views and interests are very important. I hope to cover that more intensively in the coming months. And let me finally say, once again, really thank you for having me over, for the hospitality, for the warmth of your reception.

Canberra
October 10, 2022

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