India, Australia to step up anti-terror cooperation

India, Australia to step up anti-terror cooperation

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd after their joint statement at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

During the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd here, the two sides decided to enhance cooperation in combating terrorism through agency-level cooperation and boost trade by expediting efforts to put in place a free trade agreement.

The two countries also decided to cooperate closely on other matters like energy, climate change, sports, water and science and technology.

As Rudd wound up his two-day visit here, India and Australia issued a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation entailing collaboration in areas like counter-terrorism, defence, disarmament, maritime security and non-proliferation.
"To give expression to the expansion and dynamism of our bilateral ties, we have agreed to take the relationship to the level of a strategic partnership," a Joint Statement issued today said.
Affirming that the strategic partnership between India and Australia is based on a shared desire to promote, regional and global security, the Declaration underlined the common commitment of the two sides to fight terrorism and other trans-national and organised crimes.
The security cooperation between India and Australia will include information exchange and policy coordination on regional affairs in Asia region and on long-term strategic and global issues.
The two countries will also undertake cooperation within multilateral frameworks in Asia, in particular the East Asia Summit and ASEAN Regional Forum.
"India and Australia will work towards developing an action plan with specific measures to advance security cooperation," the Declaration said.
They will have defence dialogue and cooperation within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation signed in March 2006.
Under the Security Cooperation Declaration, India and Australia will make efforts to combat terrorism, cooperate to fight trans-national organised crime and ensure maritime and aviation security.
The cooperation will be carried forward through exchange of visits at high levels including by Foreign Ministers, defence policy talks at senior officials level and participation in military exercises.
Bilateral consultations will also be undertaken to promote counter-terrorism cooperation through mechanisms like Joint Working Group.
The mechanism will also include consultations between the National Security Advisors of India and Australia.

Noting that bilateral economic ties continue to expand rapidly to mutual benefit, the joint statement said there is significant untapped potential for even stronger trade and investment links.
The Joint Study Group Report on the feasibility of Free Trade Agreement between the two countries will be submitted shortly and both sides agreed to consider its recommendations expeditiously with a view to taking further action, it said.
Noting India’s plans to meet its future energy needs by exploring and developing all sources of energy, including nuclear, renewable and non-conventional resources, the two sides also talked about collaborative efforts ahead of the Copenhagen Summit next month.
The Prime Ministers agreed that meaningful progress in the areas of energy security and climate change should be made through national, bilateral and multilateral efforts in a manner that does not limit the possibilities of accelerated economic and social development.

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