Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles added a touch of sportsmanship and cultural exploration to his diplomatic visit to Delhi on Monday. Marles, accompanied by young cricket enthusiasts aged 14-18, immersed himself in a game of ‘gully’ cricket at the iconic Richard Marles.
During the spirited match, Marles showcased his cricketing skills, interacting with the budding players and fostering a cultural exchange on the stadium premises. The Australian leader paid his respects to the late Union Minister Arun Jaitley with a floral tribute at the stadium.
In a delightful twist, Marles experienced the vibrancy of Delhi’s street food culture, sampling local delicacies. He also explored the convenience of digital payment interfaces while paying for street food, embracing the modern facets of India’s evolving economic landscape.
Earlier in the day, Marles, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, visited the National War Memorial in Delhi, laying a wreath to honor the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers.
The diplomatic agenda of the visit took a prominent turn with the Australian leaders set to co-chair the India-Australia 2+2 dialogue. This dialogue, involving External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will delve into a wide range of strategic, defense, and security issues.
Marles expressed the significance of India as a top-tier security partner for Australia, emphasizing the practical and tangible actions taken as part of its Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. He highlighted key milestones in the defense relationship, such as an Indian submarine visit to Perth and Australia’s hosting of Exercise Malabar.
“Cooperation with India is at the heart of Australia’s approach to ensuring the Indo-Pacific remains open, inclusive, and resilient,” Marles stated, underscoring the growing closeness in defence and security partnerships.
Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that the India-Australia partnership is central to regional stability and prosperity. “Australia is committed to partnering with India more closely for the benefit of our region,” she emphasized, citing collaborations in the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific.
The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue is positioned as a cornerstone of the India-Australia relationship, offering an opportunity to address a spectrum of issues that will shape the shared regional vision. The dialogue, slated for Monday in the national capital, is expected to strengthen bilateral ties and foster mutual understanding on strategic, defense, and security fronts.
The visit of the Australian leaders not only highlights the diplomatic significance of the India-Australia relationship but also showcases the cultural and sporting dimensions that enrich the bond between the two nations.