India and Australia could emerge as the strongest allies in the region and beyond

    As the world limps back to normalcy, India and Australia have the potential to emerge as the strongest allies in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

    The shared values of democracy and respect for the rule of law followed by a common interest to foster respect and adherence to international law cements the partnership between the two nations amongst other factors.

    The two Prime Ministers have met four times in various multilateral and plurilateral conferences in the past two years.

    It is precisely this strong convergence of values, shared interests and mutual understanding followed by personal contact and warmth displayed by the two leaders that make this relationship a recipe for success.

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    Amongst the various agreements that were signed during the first virtual bilateral conference on Thursday, the most important one is related to the up-gradation of ties between the two nations from a Strategic Partnership to that of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, covering a variety of topics.

    The fact that India accords the status of a Comprehensive Strategic Partner to few nations including Australia signifies the deepening bond between the two countries that were once under a firm grip of the same colonial master.

    The two countries have a common interest in ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region remains a region of peace and all activities that vitiate peace and affect prosperity are stopped henceforth.

    It is in this context that the two nations seek to push back acts of Chinese belligerence and acts which completely disregard all norms of international law.

    China has never abided by the principle of rule of law and its ‘Middle Kingdom’ syndrome has propelled it to raise the specter of war in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and the larger Indo-Pacific region.

    India and Australia can take the lead in contributing to the creation of a new security architecture that is emerging in the region.

    As far as the multilateral organizations are concerned, various world leaders have expressed the need to reform them.

    In this context, particularly the World Health Organization (WHO) has been severely criticized for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The two countries could work together in improving the status of these global bodies.

    Other significant areas of cooperation include food and natural resources and education and skill development.

    Finally, the two nations have been in the process of negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. An announcement in this regard can be expected soon.

    While the oceans are normally viewed as a separating force of two entities, in the case of India and Australia, it will unify the two countries and time has come for a fruitful and meaningful relationship.

    (The author is a strategic thinker and professor of International Relations at JNU. Views expressed are personal as told to NewsMobile)

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