India and Australia resolved to continue close cooperation for mutual well-being and towards advancing their shared objective of an open, free, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, the Ministry of External Affairs informed on Thursday. The MEA’s statement came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the sidelines of the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC today (local time).

The meeting between PM Modi and his Australian counterpart was the first in-person meeting in the post-pandemic period, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said in a special briefing on the Prime Minister’s visit to the USA. The last bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Morrison was the Leaders’ Virtual Summit held on June 4, 2020, when the Strategic Partnership between India and Australia was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, he added.

“The Prime Ministers reviewed the progress achieved since the Leaders’ Virtual Summit in June 2020 under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and resolved to continue close cooperation for mutual well-being and towards advancing their shared objective of an open, free, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region,” read the MEA statement.

The meet between two prime ministers came a day ahead of the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit. US President Joe Biden will host the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit, which will be joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

During the meeting, the Prime Ministers discussed a broad range of issues of bilateral, regional and global importance. They noted with satisfaction the regular high-level engagements between the two countries, including the recently held first India-Australia Foreign and Defence Ministers’ 2+2 Dialogue, the MEA said.

The Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the ongoing negotiations on a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA). In that context, they welcomed the visit to India by former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott as PM Scott Morrison’s Special Trade Envoy for India, and noted the commitment of both sides to achieve an early harvest announcement on an interim agreement by December 2021.

As per the MEA statement, the Prime Ministers underlined the need for the international community to address the issue of Climate Change on an urgent basis. In this regard, Prime Minister Modi highlighted the need for a broader dialogue on environmental protection. Both leaders also discussed the possibilities of providing clean technologies.

The Prime Ministers agreed that as two vibrant democracies in the region, the two countries needed to work closely together to overcome the challenges in the post-pandemic world, inter alia to enhance supply chain resilience. Both leaders lauded the immense contribution of the Indian diaspora to Australia’s economy and society, and discussed ways to enhance people to people ties.

“The Prime Minister mentioned that the Indian community was well looked after during Covid crisis in Australia. There was also appreciation of contribution of Indian diaspora in Australia,” Shringla said. Prime Minister Modi renewed his invitation to Prime Minister Morrison to visit India.

Earlier today, PM Modi met five global CEOs for potential investment in India. Prime Minister Modi arrived in Washington on Wednesday for his much-touted US visit.

PM Modi’s US visit will conclude on September 25 with an address at the United Nations General Assembly focusing on the pressing global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues. This is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit abroad beyond the neighbourhood since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.