Virtual Summit with the Prime Minister of India

Transcript
04 Jun 2020
Prime Minister
E&OE

Prime Minister Modi [Remarks delivered via translator]: On behalf of myself and all of India, I would like to wish all the people and families my deepest condolences to the people who have undergone damage because of COVID-19. This a global pandemic has had an impact on all the regiments in the world and this digital form of our summit is one of the examples of the kind of impact COVID-19 has had over the world. 

Excellency, while this gives me immense pleasure to meet you via this digital platform, however I am a little disappointed too, because I could not get the opportunity to extend a hearty welcome to you in India. We were eagerly looking forward to your visit to India, first in January, and then last month. However, unfortunately, both the times your visit had to be postponed. We have to say that this virtual meeting could not possibly replace your visit to India as a friend, my request to you is that once the situation improves, you will plan a visit to India along with your family and allow us to host you. 

Excellency, India-Australia relations are not only comprehensive, but also very deep. And this comes from our shared values, shared interest, shared [inaudible], and shared objectives. In the last few years that has been good momentum in our cooperation and coordination. It is very fortunate that the reigns of our relations is held on one side by an empowered and visionary leader like you. I believe that this is the perfect time and perfect opportunity to further strengthen India-Australia relations. 

We have unlimited possibilities, both as friends and heads of our friendship. These possibilities bring with them challenges too. How can we actually translate the potential behind these challenges so that the links between our citizens, our businesses, our economists, researchers etcetera becomes even more stronger? How do we make our relations a factor of stability for our region and for the world? How can we work together for the global purpose. All of these aspects need to be discussed. 

Excellency, in the current world scenario, expectations of countries from each other and the expectations of our citizens from us is increasing. Given that we share democratic values, it is the duty of our two nations to meet these expectations. And that is why it is our sacred responsibility to uphold and protect values for global good like democracy, rule of law, freedom, mutual respect, regard for international institutions and transparency. 

This is indeed our sacred responsibility in the sense it is our legacy for the future. Today, when these values are being challenged in different ways, we can empower, through these values, by strengthening our mutual relations. 

Excellency, India is committed to further intensifying comprehensive relations with Australia. This is important not only for our two nations, but is also needed for the Indo-Pacific region as well as for the world. I am pleased that the various framework of institutional dialogues between us are providing substance to our relations. Both countries have regular high level exchanges also. Furthermore, trade and investment is also growing. That said, I cannot say that I'm satisfied with the speed and scope of our relations with a leader like you, is at the helm of a friendly country, the benchmark for the speed in all of our relations should be ambitious. I am very happy that today we are elevating our relations to the comprehensive strategic partnership, in this kind of a pandemic our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership the role becomes even more important. The world has to quickly come out of the social and economic adverse impact and for that, a coordinated and collaborative approach, is required. Our government has decided to use this crisis as an opportunity. In India, a process of comprehensive reforms in almost all areas has already begun. Very soon, the results of these reforms will be visible and [inaudible]. 

I am grateful for the care extended to the Indian diaspora in Australia, especially the Indian students, that is our students, during this very difficult time.  Excellency, I would like to mention a special thanks to you for that. Excellency, once again, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you at this virtual summit. And I now invite you for your remarks, I am extremely eager to listen to your remarks, so I invite you for the same. 

Prime Minister Morrison: Well, thank you, Your Excellency. Namaste. It is tremendous to be able to join with you again, as we have done on quite a number of occasions. But for the first time to do this in this format. And it doesn't surprise me that this is how we will continue to meet these circumstances when you are the one who started the hologram within your campaign many years ago. And so it may be the next time we can have a hologram of Your Excellency here in Australia. But likewise, we could have brought a President Jokowi as well, because he similarly used that technology. And with a country as vast of yours, you have always been a pioneer in the area of technology for India and today is another good example of that. 

Your Excellency, can I thank you for your leadership, not just within India, but more broadly throughout the G20, the Indo-Pacific and the stabilising and constructive and very positive role that you have played in these very difficult times. Together with our friends such as Prime Minister Abe, this has been so important in our region and to provide that steadying and stabilising and wise influence during what is an incredibly difficult time for all of our countries and we wrestle with those challenges each and every day. 

Can I also convey our deepest condolences to all of those impacted by tropical cyclone Amphan. This is, together with all of the other difficult issues that are being faced, our condolences are with you for that terrible event and, of course, the industrial accident at Vizag. These are issues that are unrelated, obviously, to the Covid-19 challenges, but they still come and they still test us and once again, you've proved more than the measure of those tests. 

Our relationship is exactly as you said. It is a very, very comfortable relationship, it is a very natural relationship, so much in common, so much shared, if not in language always certainly in the things that matter and the values that we hold and we both seek to champion those values together in our region and independently as very proud sovereign nations and very vibrant liberal democracies as well and I think we hold that flag up very proudly, each of us. When those flags come together in the way they have now and have for some time, we are only full of ambition, as you said, for what can be achieved in our relationship and between us, I have no doubt and with our excellent Foreign Ministers and Trade Ministers and others, Defence Ministers and others, we could achieve a lot in the years to come. 

In the Indo-Pacific, we are committed to an open, inclusive, prosperous Indo-Pacific and India's role in that region, our region, will be critical in the years ahead. The cultural links that we enjoy between our countries are well known. And what, though, I am even more excited about, Your Excellency, is that it's time for our relationship to go broader and to go deeper and the things we are speaking of today, I greatly regret we could not do them in person, on not just one, but two occasions. And I thank you very much for the invitation to join, for Jenny and I, to join you in the future. I know she's very much looking forward to it and so we thank you. She'll be pleased when I tell her tonight when I get on the phone that Nerandra has invited us again and she’ll be pleased about that. So we look forward to doing that when we can all travel. But I suspect there'll be perhaps some other opportunities we will meet, I understand perhaps at the G7 with that going ahead later in the year and other events as we draw to the close of the year.

Today, science and technology, a new special grant round between our two countries for a program that is really joining our scientists together. This is exciting. A joint declaration on a shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. We share an ocean and we share responsibilities for that ocean as well. Its health, its wellbeing, its security and the relationship we're forming around those issues and our maritime domain, I think, is the platform for so many other things between our countries. The mutual logistic support arrangement and a defence science and technology implementing arrangement. These are the substantial issues that good friends developed together that provide the opportunity for the many other commercial opportunities that come our way. In a time like this, we want to deal very much with friends and trusted partners and this is a partnership which has stood the test time and again and is during the course of this current crisis. 

We share a vision for open, free, rules-based multilateral systems in our region, whether that's in the health area or it's in trade or in other places. We engage in those as confident but sovereign nations advancing, of course, our own interests and mindful of our own domestic challenges and I think you've navigated that incredibly well and we thank you for the way you continue and go in those fora  in such an open and honest and transparent way. 

The trade and investment flows between our country are not where you and I would both like them to be, but they are growing and they can grow a lot faster. But I think the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership that we are forming today, going to a whole new level of relationship, will continue to build the trust because we want commercial and trading relationships that are built on trust. We already see a great movement of peoples in normal times between our countries and I thank you for your comments about the hospitality that is extended to Indian students here in Australia and we want to continue to see that happen. And we want to see Australian students study in India as well as we support and would like to support through the programmes that we run here from Australia. 

I also want to commend India on its leadership in these multilateral forums, particularly on taking over Chair of the World Health Organisation's executive board. This is a very important time to be chairing that executive board. I have no doubt that the way that that will be led under India's leadership will be critical to how we deal with the many difficult problems that we are encountering globally, particularly in the health area. 

And so as we announce agreements also in cyber and science and infrastructure and trade and education, this is a grand portfolio of specific and very practical arrangements that give form and substance to the comprehensive strategic partnership. You and I have both - you for much longer - have been dealing in these international issues for a long time and there are many relationships and partnerships but we know they don't come to anything if we don't put into the practical building blocks and agreements that sit under the relationship that actually contribute to the prosperity and the progress of the relationship between our two countries. 

So today is a very good opportunity to extend that. It will be extended also in the agreement that we have to commit to foreign and defence ministers meeting on a regular two time, two plus two format. I think that's a great step forward. The relationship also we have with partners in the region, particularly Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, the United States, others is very important and we are both enthusiastically pursuing those bilateral relationships. But increasingly in multilateral fora, both informally and formally, that is providing, I think, a basis of stability of our region, which we can all share in and we can drive prosperity from.

So I look forward to this first Australia and India Leader's Virtual Summit Today. I wish I could be there for what has become the famous Modi hug and be able to share my samosas, which I thank you for. We had a bit of fun with that on the weekend. So next time, it will have to be the Gujarati khichdi which I know is a keen favourite of yours and you've mentioned to me before. So I'll try that out in the kitchen next time, before next time we meet in person. 

Thank you.

[END]