India and Australia are planning new military drills to strengthen security cooperation, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed his counterpart to the South Asian country for the first time.
In a speech delivered aboard the INS Vikrant aircraft carrier on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced new military exercises to be held with Indian forces. For the first time, India will take part in Australia's Talisman Sabre exercises alongside the United States.
“India is a top-tier security partner for Australia and there has never been such a strong strategic alignment in both of our countries' histories,” Albanese said in a speech in Mumbai on Thursday.
The strengthening of Australia-India defence ties will strengthen the so-called Quad, a group of democracies banding together to counter China's growing influence. This alliance also includes Japan and the United States.
Albanese's announcement came after two days of highly choreographed pomp and ceremony to commemorate Albanese's trip to India, Australia's first since 2017. Shortly after arriving, Albanese participated in Holi celebrations to mark the beginning of spring, getting his face painted and showered with marigold petals.
Prior to his trip to the INS Vikrant, Albanese travelled to Ahmedabad to meet PM Modi and watch the start of the fourth cricket test match between India and Australia. To rapturous applause, the two leaders rode into the Modi Stadium on a glitzy gold chariot.
The Indian Prime Minister has frequently used foreign leader visits to raise international awareness of Ahmedabad, the largest city in his home state of Gujarat. Modi has hosted former President Donald Trump, as well as Japanese and Israeli leaders, in the city in an effort to offer an alternative perspective to the city's association with deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002, which occurred while he was Chief Minister of the State.
The two leaders will meet in New Delhi on Friday and are expected to announce an agreement on critical minerals.
Albanese will then travel to the United States to meet with US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to announce plans for Australia's nuclear submarine fleet, built under the Aukus agreement.